Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

I am a collegiate high jumper. I somehow ended up with a stress fracture in the small bones under my big toe, the sesamoids. The pain has been going on for months. Now my doctor wants to do surgery to graft new bone where the sesamoids didn't heal. I've been told I won't be able to compete for at least four months after the surgery, which means I'll have to miss the upcoming track season. Why can't the doctor just go in and take the bones out so I can get back to my sport?

Answer:

Your performance as a high jumper would be significantly worse if both the sesamoid bones were taken out. The sesamoid bones may be small, but they play a vital role in the way the foot and big toe work. The sesamoids are embedded in the soft tissues under the main joint of the big toe. The short flexor muscle of the big toe passes over the "bump" formed by these two bones. This bump acts as a fulcrum point to give leverage for the toe flexor muscle. The toe flexor muscle wouldn't work as well if the sesamoid bones were taken out, and your big toe might start to slant outward and bend up like a claw. Rather than taking the bone out, your doctor can keep the fulcrum point intact with a bone graft.



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