With a name like “turf toe” many patients wonder how they developed this foot condition without participating in sports-related activities. While this condition refers to a generic sprain in the tissues surrounding the big toe joint, it became more widespread after the invention of Astroturf. As athletes began to practice on this harder-than-grass surface, many acquired the sprain from repetitive propulsion off the big toe. Injuries of this nature commonly occur in many different sports as well as gymnastics and dance.
Typically, this condition is indicative of an injury in any of the soft tissues surrounding the big toe joint. It can be as mild as stretching or as severe as dislocating the joint.
What do I look for?
This condition is commonly detected with the onset of pain, swelling, and redness in the joint between the forefoot and toe. The inflammation at the base of the big toe can even limit its movement. If this happens with a sudden trauma to the foot, patients may often hear a popping noise at the moment of injury. Without proper treatment, such severe cases will develop into more complex problems. In order to properly diagnose this condition many diagnostic procedures can be used in addition to a physical examination. X-rays, bone scans, CT scans, and MRI are all useful in determining foot problem causes and the extent to which the feet and ankles have been damaged.
How is it treated?
The most common conservative treatment method for this condition is the R.I.C.E. method. By following a regimen of rest, icing, compression, and elevation many patients are able to return to normal activity in two to three weeks time. This method, along with anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, allows the body to have time to heal. Athletic tape is often used to immobilize and relieve pressure from the injured joint. Once healing is nearly complete, many individuals find that physical therapy is necessary to regain strength and flexibility of the big toe joint.
Dr. Trent Timson has extensive experience in helping athletes prevent future occurrences of this condition. By analyzing a patient’s gait and natural foot structures, our trained team of professionals can prescribe the best footwear for your lifestyle. We can also recommend many exercises and stretches that aid in foot pain prevention. In rare cases surgery may be required to correct this condition; this typically only arises with severe tears in the tissues and abnormalities in the bones of the foot.
How did I get it?
The irritation that leads to turf toe occurs as the foot lifts off the ground. This is known as the propulsion phase of walking. When the foot stays flat during this motion instead of rolling forward, the body risks hyper-extending the toe and causing damage to the tissues of the feet. This abnormal positioning of the structures within the big toe joint can also occur in a traumatic event, like being tackled in football.
In this case the condition does not usually develop slowly over time; these sprains are commonly felt as they form. Many of these injuries can be prevented with proper footwear. Wearing shoes that support and stabilize the feet allow for the proper distribution of pressure throughout the foot in each step. By following the correct guidelines for athletic shoes, many patients are able to live healthy and stress-free lives.