What is it?
A turf toe injury is a
sprain to the ligaments of the large toe joint. The name comes from injuries
seen in professional athletes that play sports on artificial turf. This
injury can be very painful for the athlete and can easily interfere with
one's normal running activities. There is frequently a localized swelling of
the large toe joint with turf toe injuries, while weight bearing and range
of motion testing will usually accentuate the pain.
What causes it?
A turf toe injury is
caused when one bends their big toe joint up (hyperextension) or down (hyperflexion)
past the normal allowable amount of range of motion. This causes a sprain of
the ligaments surrounding the big toe joint and subsequent pain on weight
bearing. The most frequent type of turf toe injury encountered is due to
hyperextension. Associated with this condition is often an overstretching of
the plantar (bottom) capsule of the involved joint. The toe must be
evaluated to rule out a fracture, tendon rupture or dislocation.
How do you treat them?
Treatment for turf toe
includes rest, ice, and compression of the joint. These should all be done
to help decrease swelling of the joint and associated soft tissue
structures. The toe can also be splinted with athletic tape as one returns
to activities. The splint will help to decrease the range of motion of the
toe so as to prevent further injury. A special device that is inserted into
the shoe provides an extension for the big toe and can be used for long-term
treatment. These conditions will usually respond well to therapy but must be
recognized and properly diagnosed early.