Turf Toe

Athletes know that because they are highly active people the chances of sustaining an injury are more common than for those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. One common injury, specifically for football players and dancers, is turf toe.

What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe is essentially a sprain to the ligaments surrounding the big toe. It can happen suddenly or build up over time until it becomes a problem. When it happens suddenly it’s usually seen in athletes that are playing sports on artificial turf, especially football players. Artificial ground is more difficult to maneuver on, and sometimes your shoes can even stick to the ground. Typically, it will happen to players who are wearing more flexible shoes that allow the toes to bend forward further. Dancers also often find themselves the victims of turf toe more frequently than others.

What are the Symptoms?

If you do sprain your big toe due to an injury you will experience immediate symptoms. There is an intense amount of pain and swelling and you probably won’t be able to walk because the range of motion in your toe will be very limited. You may even be able to hear a popping sound when it happens. If it occurs over time you may still experience the same symptoms only they will worsen as time goes by. Since the symptoms may resemble other toe injuries or conditions your doctor will usually perform a number of tests including X-ray (to rule out a bone fracture), CT scan, MRI, or bone scan. Once it’s determined to be turf toe your treatment program can begin.

Treatment for a Toe Sprain

Treatment for turf toe depends on the severity of the injury. The first thing that needs to happen is RICE. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and it is used as a way to decrease swelling and promote healing. It will also help with pain. Your toe will definitely need to be immobilized for a period of time while the tissue heals. One way to do this is by taping or wrapping the injured toe to the healthy one next to it. This is known as “the buddy method”. Your doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen to help with pain and swelling. Sometimes it might be recommended that you wear a cast or a boot while you heal. You may even need crutches to assist you in getting around. In extremely severe and rare cases you might need surgical intervention if there is a severe tear in the plantar complex or the sesamoid bones were fractured.

Seeking Medical Help

It’s a good idea to get immediate medical help if you believe you have turf toe. This type of sprain will not just heal on its own, so it’s important to follow a treatment regimen that will have you back on your feet in no time. If any of these symptoms apply to you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (888) 616-2512 to schedule an appointment with us in our North Andover, Haverhill, or Lowell offices.