Turf Toe Can Be Very Painful for Athletes

It may be a funny name but the pain and inconvenience of turf toe are anything but funny. This injury occurs when the ligaments around the big toe are sprained when pushing off during sports like football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. Often the cleats or athletic shoes will stick to artificial turf or even grass. Dancers can injure their feet the same way by repeatedly jamming the big toe.

There are two small bones called sesamoids behind the big toe joint that work with the tendon to move the big toe and also absorb weight that presses on the ball of the foot. A hyperextension of the toe can sprain the ligaments around the joint.

You may have turf toe if you have pain, swelling and limited joint movement at the base of the big toe. This painful condition can come on suddenly or worsen over time with repetitive motion.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Turf Toe

If you suspect you have turf toe, don’t waste any time coming in to see us at Your Next Step. You will need a professional evaluation and treatment recommendations.

We will examine your foot and ask about the injury as well as your health history and sports participation. We can take x-rays right in the office to rule out a fracture, and maybe also schedule a bone scan, CT scan or MRI to rule out other injuries.

Treatment begins with the R.I.C.E method: rest, ice frequently, apply compression with an elastic bandage and elevate often, preferably above the heart. Other treatments are:

  • Over-the-counter ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Immobilize the joint by strapping the big toe to the next one
  • Further immobilize with a cast or walking boot with crutches
  • Severe cases may require surgery

It will take two to three weeks for the pain to ease. Follow-up physical therapy may be recommended.

Can Turf Toe Be Prevented?

Shoes with better support to prevent excessive bending and force when pushing off can help. Soccer shoes that are too flexible and allow the foot to bend too far forward should be avoided.

If necessary, we can also prescribe special shoe inserts to stabilize and support the big toe joint.

Call Us Today for Help with Turf Toe Symptoms

Call us to set up an appointment at any of our three offices in Ardmore, Paoli or Downingtown or contact us through our website. Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen, board certified or qualified podiatrists at Your Next Step, have the right experience to keep you in the game!

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