Sesamoid Fracture

A sesamoid is a type of bone that is found within a tendon. These small bones allow smooth movement of the feet. Sesamoid fractures most commonly refer to the bones located under the big toe. These are the least common fractures of the forefoot.

  • Causes

    Sesamoid fractures can be caused by:


    • Injuries, particularly:

      • Falling from a height and landing heavily on the feet
      • Crush injury
    • Repetitive stress to the bone
    • Hyperextension of the toe and forefoot

  • Definition

    A sesamoid is a type of bone that is found within a tendon. These small bones allow smooth movement of the feet. Sesamoid fractures most commonly refer to the bones located under the big toe. These are the least common fractures of the forefoot.

    Sesamoid Bones of the Foot
    sesamoid bone foot
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist. A podiatrist focuses on the feet. An orthopedist focuses on bones.

    Tests to detect breaks in the bone may include the following:

    • X-ray
      of the foot

    An x-ray may not be able to provide enough detail of the small bone. In this case, you may need:

    • Bone scan
      of the foot

    • A
      CT scan
      or
      MRI scan
      are sometimes needed

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of fracturing your sesamoid bone:


    • Wear the
      proper footwear
      for the activity you are doing

  • Risk Factors

    These factors increase your chance of a sesamoid fracture. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:


    • Participation in high-impact sports

      • Running
      • Aerobics
      • Ballet
      • Basketball
      • Gymnastics

  • Symptoms

    The most common symptom of a sesamoid fracture is pain in the ball of the foot and big toe. Other symptoms include:

    • Swelling to foot and big toe
    • Bruising
    • Tenderness to touch
    • Limited range of motion to the big toe

  • Treatment

    Sesamoid fractures are often treated with rest and rehabilitation. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:


    The foot is immobilized with a cast. This will promote healing and keep weight off the foot.
    Crutches
    are also used to limit weight bearing on the affected foot.