“Turf toe” is not a term you might be familiar with, but if you (or your kiddo) spend time on the gridiron field this fall, you may become closely acquainted with the symptoms.
We treat a fair amount of turf toe here at Texas Orthopedics this time of year.
Turf toe is a sprain of the main joint (metatarsophalangeal joint or MTP joint) of the big toe. It’s typically the result of the forefoot grinding against the ground (or turf) while the heel is raised, forcing the toe into a hyperextension (or an unnaturally bent position).
This injury mostly occurs in sports played on artificial turf because it’s a much harder surface than natural grass. Not isolated to the gridiron field, it can also occur while playing other sports such as soccer, lacrosse- and even basketball.
Common symptoms include:
Pain and tenderness of the big toe or on the ball of foot
Swelling or bruising of the toe
Inability to bear weight on or push off with the toe
Limited movement and range of motion of the toe
In most cases, the injury is effectively treated with the RICE protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help alleviate pain.
Sufficient rest and not rushing back to play are key to healing turf toe. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged joint and surrounding ligaments.