06 Dec What is Turf Toe?
What is Turf Toe
Just this week, the National Football League announced that three players are out with “turf toe” injuries. They’re sure to be followed by others. Football and soccer fans are used to hearing this term, which seems to be the NFL equivalent of a common cold. But what exactly is it?
Big Toe Trouble
Turf toe is a strain of the metatarsophalangeal joint (MPJ) at the base of the big toe. It’s usually caused by the toe being forced into an unnatural position. Turf toe can be caused by a single event or by repeated motions that weaken the ligament.
Turf toe is more common among athletes who play on turf fields, because the turf tends to grip the athletes’ shoes, causing them to jam their toes into the turf during certain motions. It’s also common among martial artists, dancers, runners and high jumpers.
Non-athletes can also suffer from turf toe. Stubbing your toe or making a sudden jump from your toes can cause it.
Symptoms of Turf Toe
Some people report hearing a “popping” sound when the injury happens. The pain will be immediate and gradually get worse. You may also experience:
- swelling along the base of the big toe.
- bruising or tenderness across the toes.
- pain in the ball of the foot.
- inability to move the toe.
- limited use of the foot.
Diagnosing Turf Toe
Since many things can cause foot and toe pain, the only way to be sure you’re dealing with turf toe is to get the right diagnosis. At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we have the knowledge and experience to treat turf toe and many other sports-related foot injuries.
To determine if you have turf toe, a podiatrist must first rule out whether you broke your toe. An examination will also determine if another condition or illness is causing the problem.
Don’t attempt to diagnose foot injuries yourself. Even a seemingly simple condition like an ingrown nail or a fungal nail is easy to misdiagnose if you’re not a foot care professional.
Make the Grade
Turf toe injuries are ranked by a grading system.
- Grade 1: Small amount of swelling and pain with no bruising.
- Grade 2: Moderate bruising, swelling, and pain.
- Grade 3: Severe bruising, swelling, pain and inability to move the toe.
The grade you get will determine how long it takes to recover.
Foot Care for Turf Toe
Rest. This is the first and primary treatment. If you’re suffering from turf toe, you’ll need to rest the toe completely. A mild case might need only a week of rest, but more severe sprains will need about four weeks to recuperate.
Cast. Your podiatrist might have a cast or a walking boot fitted to keep the foot immobile.
Crutches. These might be prescribed to ensure that the foot isn’t used, or if it’s too painful to put any weight on the toe.
Taping. Some sufferers find that taping the toe to the other toes can provide some relief. A podiatrist can use strapping to hold the toe close to the other toes, providing support and some pain relief.
After the toe recovers, you’ll need a full course of physical therapy before you can get back to work or the playing field. Dr. Shuman can help devise a complete rehabilitation program that will have your toe easing back into its full range of motion in a short time.
To prevent further toe injuries:
- Wear shoes that offer extra support in the toe box.
- Look for athletic shoes with stiffer soles, similar to cleats.
- Consider custom orthotics that will protect your toes.
- Always wear the appropriate, properly fitted shoes for your sport.
Turf toe can lead to serious problems if it’s left untreated, so never ignore foot or toe pain. After rest and rehabilitation, you’ll be able to return to your favorite activities.
At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we provide the most up-to-date treatments for sports injuries. We’ve successfully treated hundreds of cases of turf toe and we know how important it is to get you back on the field. If you’re experiencing any pain in your feet, or if you’re having trouble with an ingrown nail or a fungal nail, give us a call and get ready for total relief.