What is Turf Toe?
Turf toe is a sports injury that can occur while playing soccer, baseball or football. Typically, the joint located at the big toe’s base gets hurt if the toe is jammed forcefully into the turf or if it is bent backward. Turf toe is so called because it usually occurs while playing on artificial turf or grass. This condition can cause great pain and dislocation of the big toe. Over time, the injured joint can become vulnerable to arthritis because of stiffness and reduced flexibility. In case turf toe does not heal completely, the athlete’s athletic skills can be diminished and the injury can become chronic.
Causes of Turf Toe
- Playing sports on artificial turf or grass.
- Wearing improper shoes while playing. For example, if the shoe is too flexible, the forefoot can become overextended resulting in turf toe.
Diagnosis of Turf Toe
Diagnosis is straightforward and the doctor will check the symptoms and physically examine the affected toe joint. He/she may order x-rays to rule out other conditions like arthritis or fracture. Sometimes, imaging tests like MRI, CT scan or a bone scan may be required.
Symptoms of Turf Toe
- Swelling, pain and limited joint movement
- Injury gradually worsens over the next 24 hours
- Sometimes a “pop” sensation is felt at the joint
Treatment for Turf Toe
- To reduce inflammation and swelling, RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) treatment is recommended
- You can take anti-inflammatory medicines for relief
- Give plenty of rest to the affected toe joint to enable it to heal properly
- You can use a cast or special boot to immobilize the injured foot
- Crutches may have to be used to avoid putting weight on the affected joint
- Though surgery is only the last option, it may be required in severe cases or if a bone spur develops in the foot.
- The pain may take a couple of weeks to subside. To rehabilitate the joint, physical therapy exercises are required to restore conditioning, strength and range of motion to the affected toe.
How to Prevent Turf Toe
Many professional football players wear shoes that have a steel plate or tape their toes to prevent this injury. It is essential to wear shoes with stiff soles to prevent turf toe. You can also ask your doctor about specially designed inserts that can help you.
For more information on the condition of turf toe, please watch this video: