Turf Toe

Foot and ankle problems usually fall into the following categories:

  • Acquired from improper footwear, physical stress, or small mechanical changes within the foot.
  • Arthritic foot problems, which typically involve one or more joint.
  • Congenital foot problems, which occur at birth, are generally inherited.
  • Infectious foot problems, which are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal disorders.
  • Neoplastic disorders, usually called tumors, which are the result of abnormal growth of tissue and may be benign or malignant.
  • Traumatic foot problems, which are associated with foot and ankle injuries.

What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint resulting from injury during sports activities. The injury usually results from excessive upward bending of the big toe joint. The condition can be caused from either jamming the toe, or repetitive injury when pushing off repeatedly when running or jumping. Although this injury is most commonly reported in football players, participants in soccer, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics and dance also are at risk.

Causes

The name “turf toe” comes from the fact that this injury is especially common among athletes who play on artificial turf. When playing sports on artificial turf the foot can stick to the hard surface, resulting in jamming of the big toe joint. There has also been some indication that less-supportive flexible shoes worn on artificial turf are also to blame.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of turf toe can include pain, swelling, and limited joint movement.

If turf toe is caused by repetitive actions that cause injury, the signs and symptoms will usually begin slowly and can gradually worsen. Turf toe can also be caused by a direct injury leading to damage of the bone beneath the cartilage. If direct injury is the cause, the signs and symptoms may begin suddenly and get worse over a 24-hour period.

Diagnosis

To arrive at a diagnosis, the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your medical history and examine your foot. X-rays are typically ordered to rule out any broken bone. Other advanced imaging studies may also be helpful for proper diagnosis.

Treatment 

Initial treatments include rest, ice, compression, and elevation. (RICE), as well as a change to less-flexible footwear. Operative treatment is reserved for individuals with severe cases and prolonged pain.


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