Do you have a young ballet dancer in your family? Is she (or he) complaining of ball of foot pain? If so, your child may very well be suffering from a condition known as Sesamoiditis, a common over-use injury in dancers and athletes, which causes inflammation of the Sesamoid bones and related tendons. The pain can range from a dull ache to an intense “throbbing” sensation and, because the injury is related to increased activity, it will require treatment, as it will rarely simply “go away” on its own.
Sesamoids are very small bones that are embedded within a tendon. In this case, these bones are just behind the base of the big toe, near the ball of the foot. The term “Sesamoiditis” is used to describe an injury to any of the multiple Sesamoids in the body; most commonly inflammation due to over-use, as with dancers. The condition can be quite painful and regular, taking place as it does within a flexing joint, causing swelling and pain in the ball of the foot.
Ballet especially will increase the pressure on the Sesamoids, with frequent positions en relevé, which cause swelling, inflammation, and pain at the ball of the foot. Since young dancers have less padding at the ball of the foot, they are particularly prone to sesamoiditis, which may even make it difficult to bend or straighten the affected big toe.
While Sesamoiditis will certainly require your young ballet dancer to rest the affected foot before resuming rehearsals and performances, it is rare that it will end her dancing career. Common treatment therapies for sesamoiditis may include complete rest; steroid injections to reduce inflammation; a temporary walking cast to relieve pressure; physical therapy; foot pad; shoe modifications; custom orthotics; up to and including surgery for extreme cases, though this is rare and will only be recommended as a last resort.
If your young ballet dancer has been complaining of persistent ball of foot pain, do not procrastinate about getting treatment. Left untreated, Sesamoiditis may lead to a chronic condition that will prohibit the further enjoyment of ballet. Instead, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle office as soon as possible for treatment and relief of ball of foot pain in young ballet dancers.
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