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What is Turf Toe?

A person develops turf toe when there has been a soft tissue injury to the joint of the great toe causing big toe pain. Athletes most generally play their sports on turf and this is where they obtain the most of their injuries and this is where turf toe got its name. Also, when any activity causes the big toe to get out of its normal range of motion, turf toe can develop as the toe is injured. Ligaments become sprained surrounding the joint of the great toe which causes turf toe.

Sudden Injury

When a person starts to move they use the great toe to help to push themselves forward to begin to walk or run. If the great toe for some reason stays in a flat position instead of moving forward it can become injured. This can suddenly cause the injury of turf toe as well. Over time of incorrect movement and pushing off with the great toe injury will appear with pain of severe nature as the first sign. Ligaments surrounding the great toe joint become sprained in this type of injury. Most generally the foot is extended too far when the injury occurs. Often a “pop” sound can be felt when the foot is injured.

Typical Diagnosis

When seeing the doctor for the injury, he will want a complete history of what has happened to the foot and usually what one has done to cause the injury. Examination by the doctor will include looking thoroughly at the foot, inspecting any swelling, comparison of the foot that is injured against the healthy foot. This helps the doctor to see the differences and the type of injury that the individual may have. Next, most will X-ray the foot to make sure there are no other types of injuries to the foot. In more severe case, it may be necessary to do a CT scan, MRI, or a bone scan. These are all very simple and non-invasive tests. All of these types of tests will help the doctor to make an affirmative diagnosis and what type of treatment will best fit the type of injury.

Treatment Options

With treatment it may take several weeks for the subsiding of the pain. The most usual types of treatments are:

• Give the turf toe enough time to completely heel by resting for extended amount of time.
• OTC medications that lessen the pain and aid in the reduction of inflammation.
• Immobilization of toe by either taping or strapping it to the toe next to it.
• Placing a cast or custom boot to keep the toe from moving.

It may be beneficial for the individual to also use crutches to avoid placing any amount of weight on the turf toe. Following the immobilization of the ends of the joints, physical therapy will be needed to aid in the establishment of correct range of motion, conditioning and strengthening of the turf toe following the injury.
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