Turf Toe

Turf toe is a sprain of the base of the big toe, where the big toe meets the foot. A sprain stretches or tears the ligaments that support the toe. (Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.) The injury is called turf toe because it often occurs when playing on artificial turf. It can occur when the shoes grip the surface hard and stick, moving the bodyweight forward while the big toe up bends up and beyond its normal range of motion. Turf toe can also occur when the toe is hyper-extended by a sudden stop in running.

Activities that may cause Turf Toe:

Conditions or circumstances where turf toe injury may occur include:

  • Athletes playing sports such as football, soccer, rugby and basketball
  • Wearing athletic shoes with flexible soles
  • Dancing
  • Running, with sudden stops

Turf Toe Symptoms

Symptoms of turf toe include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot and the big toe
  • Swelling and bruising of the ball of the foot and the big toe
  • Inability to bear weight on the ball of the injured foot
  • Inability to push off on the big toeReduced range of motion in the big toe
  • Reduced range of motion in the big toe

Turf Toe Diagnosis

The physician will ask the patient about symptoms and history of injury and will examine the injured area. He or she may also take X-Rays to assure that bones are not broken. An MRI Scan may be used to determine if the ligament is completely torn.

Turf Toe Treatment

Treatment measures may include:

  • Rest and avoidance of activities that caused the injuries
  • Ice applied 15-20 minutes, 4 times per day for 2 to 3 days
  • Medication such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin
  • Compression - an elastic bandage to reduce swelling
  • Elevation to drain fluid and reduce swelling
  • Stiff soled shoes or Rigid Orthotics (foot support inserts)
  • An ankle brace or ankle tape, particularly for sports activities
  • In rare cases, surgery may be required if a small piece of bone has been broken off by the injury to the ligament, or if the ligament is completely torn.

In rare cases, surgery may be required if a small piece of bone has been broken off by the injury to the ligament or the ligament is completely torn.

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