Sesamoid bones develop in tendons, a mixture of bone, cartilage and fibrous tissue which are usually encased within a joint capsule. Sesamoids are found in the hands and feet, although the largest is the patella, which is encased in the patellar tendon at the inferior end of the quadriceps femoris.
Due to excessive weight-bearing on the feet during dance, dancers may experience sesamoiditis, causing pain in the ball of the foot.
Sesamoiditis is an inflammation of the tissues surrounding the sesamoid bones on the bottom surface of the foot under the first metatarsal. These bones carry half of the body weight while standing, and the force placed on them is even greater when landing from a jump.
Causes & Symptoms:
Sesamoiditis is a condition caused and/or exacerbated by repeated injury, forcing turn out, and repeated hard landings from jumps. Environmental considerations come into play as well; a hard floor that is not sprung can contribute to the development of sesamoiditis. The dancer may feel pain on the ball of the foot while in demi-pointe or even while walking.
Prevention & Treatment:
Up to 85% of cases of sesamoiditis occur bilaterally (in both feet). It is imperative that a dancer who doesn’t cushion her jumps with the heels down in a plié is corrected as soon as possible. Enviromental considerations include making sure to use a sprung floor and proper surface such as wood or marley. Sesamoiditis can also occur as a secondary condition in dancers with bunions. A “dancer’s pad” may be used inside shoes to relieve pressure on the ball of the foot and allow inflammation to subside. More aggressive treatments include oral anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections.
** Note: Fact sheets are compiled from peer-reviewed resources, and are intended for reference only. For a complete list of references, click here. In the event of an injury, seek advice from a licensed health professional. The original content of this site is protected by copyright and may be shared, but not be republished without permission. For full disclaimers and disclosures, visit our policies.