Turf Toe Treatment
Turf Toe isn’t the word you want to say when talking to the head soccer coach about his star forward right before the game starts. Turf Toe is a known term that’s used regularly to describe a ligament sprain near the big toe joint. This injury is generally associated with soccer, baseball, basketball, gymnastics, dance, and wrestling athletes. It’s caused by repeatedly pushing off or jamming the big toe. To heal the toe rapidly make sure you stretch, massage, and exercise the toe regularly.
Symptoms & Causes – Turf Toe
The most reported symptoms of turf toe involve limited joint movement near the big toe, pain, swelling and aching. Generally the symptoms will evolve slowly and consistently get worse over time if it’s caused by a recurring injury. If your injury is caused by an abrupt energetic motion, then the injury can cause intense pain instantly and progress within 24hr. Typically when the injury takes places you will notice a “crack/pop” that will be felt near your big toe. Usually the joint is involved, your big toe movement will be extremely limited.
Turf Toe is a direct sprain to the big toe ligaments, which works to allow the toe to move in the up and down motion. Right behind your big toe joint near the ball of your foot there are two marble shaped bones embedded into the tendon that provides all the movement for your big toe called sesamoids. These related bones act as a pulley for the tendon and provide consistent leverage when your hiking, running, or walking.
When your running or walking, your foot starts each step by raising the heel to allow your body weight to move forward onto the ball of your foot. When you hit the right point you thrust yourself forward by pushing off on your big toe which allows your weight to transfer to the other foot. If your toe stays flat on the ground and fails to thrust you forward then you risk sudden injury near that joint. Or if your playing soccer, football, or baseball and you fall forward while your big toe stays flat and is stretched beyond its normal limit, this could cause hyperextension of the toe. Repetitive injuries from brute force, can cause ligament sprains around the toe joint.
Normally turf toe injuries are immediate. Usually it’s seen in athletes that are very active with their feet. The shoes being worn can also have a negative affect if they offer too much flexibility, which allows the foot to bend forward to far.
Diagnosis & Treatment – Turf Toe
To properly diagnose and treat turf toe, your doctor will ask you to describe as much as you possibly can about how you injured your toe, your physical activities, occupation, and shoes you wear. The doctor will then go over your foot injury history and then examine your injury, documenting any bruising, swelling, or pain. Most likely the doctor will ask for an X-ray, MRI, CT scan or Ultrasound to verify no other injury is present. The proper diagnosis will then be made on the medical evaluation.
Treatment for turf toe is usually a combination of icing, heating, compression, elevation and rest. This simple and effective approach gives the toe injury time to properly heal, which means staying off the injured feet and keeping it elevated. Your doctor might prescribe over-the-counter medication to reduce inflammation and pain. The doctor may use a fabric or gel foot orthotic device to relieve the stress on it.
Another effective way is to protect your toe is with a foot boot or cast that prevents movement. Your doctor might also request that you use crutches so no weight is placed on your foot. If the turf toe injury affects our daily life and can’t be resolved with conventional options the doctor may recommend surgical intervention.
The overall goal of turf toe treatment is to find out why the injury occurred and to learn how to prevent further issues from arising again. The best way to reduce injury from turf toe is to wear comfortable shoes with ample support that keep your toe joint from overextended. A sports medicine doctor or physical therapist can work with you to help correct any bad gait habits that might be causing your injuries. Working with the proper specialist will allow you to develop the proper movements to decrease your chance of injury. You cuold also look into using special gel or fabric orthotics inserts that are specificly designed to help prevent further injury.