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What Is Turf Toe?

turf toe

Turf toe or metatarsophalangeal joint sprain is a common term used to describe sprain of the ligament of the big toe joint. The big toe joint consist of four bones: the phalanges and the sesamoids. The phalanges are joined together by strong connective tissue, which we commonly refer to as the ligament. Turf toe is a condition that is caused by hyperextension (excessive movement – backwards bending of the toe) or hyperflexion (excessive movement – forward bending of the toe) of the ligament. Common sports associated with this condition are football, soccer, basketball, gymnastic and dance.

Causes Of Turf Toe

Turf toe occurs in sudden movements such as a tackle in football, twists and turns in soccer and on point in dance. All these movements hyperextend or hyperflex the toe joint leading to the strain on the ligament. Occasionally, a sprained toe also occurs in repetitive sports or activities involving end range of movements of the big toe joint.

Turf toe is commonly seen in athletes who train on artificial hard surfaces rather than natural grass surfaces.

Symptoms Of Sprained Toe

  • Sudden onset of pain during the activity
  • Pain and stiffness after activity and next morning
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Limited joint range of movement at the base of the big toe
  • Symptoms can be felt on the front, back, sides of the affected joint and also gradually worsen over time.
  • Sometimes a “pop” can be felt during the causative activity
  • Usually exacerbated with activities that place pressure on affected joint such as walking, running, kicking or jumping

Turf Toe Diagnosis

Your sport podiatrist can identify the condition through clinical examination and a thorough history of the activity. Further investigation to confirm the diagnosis include X-ray to rule out a fracture. Other investigations include MRI or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Turf Toe Treatment

The initial treatment for turf toe is a combination of rest or reduced activity, regular icing, and compression with bandages. It is important to elevate the affected foot (RICE). This approach allows time for the injury to heal, reduces swelling and redness and reduces pain.

Your podiatrist can also strap the toe which helps to unload it and reduce pressure on the joint.

Supportive footwear with stiffer material at the front, mid shank and heel cup can also help to protect the affected toe joint during activities.

Orthotics can also help to take pressure off the affected area.Tina

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