It is simply a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. It’s a condition that’s caused by jamming the big toe or repeatedly pushing off the big toe forcefully as in running and jumping. The most common symptoms of turf toe include pain, swelling, and limited joint movement at the base of one big toe. The symptoms develop slowly and gradually get worse over time if it’s caused by repetitive injury. If it’s caused by a sudden forceful motion, the injury can be painful immediately and worsen within 24 hours. Sometimes when the injury occurs, a “pop” can be felt. Usually the entire joint is involved, and toe movement is limited.
- 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.
- Initial treatments include rest, ice, compression, and elevation. (RICE), as well as a change to less-flexible footwear.
- Podiatry consultation for further management.
- Podiatrist may use measures to limit great toe motion such as stiff soled shoes, or a cam walker to protect the injured tissue while it heals.
- We may consider taping the big toe and using a Morton’s extension splint may be beneficial in protecting the toe.
- Orthopaedic surgeon for surgical correction if nonoperative approach does not work with the symptoms.
- In many cases, if adequate compliance is achieved, conservatively and surgically treated patients can return to their preinjury level of function. However, some disability is possible with either form of treatment.
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