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Turf Toe

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Turf Toe - L.A. Orthopedic & Pain Center

Turf toe is a condition that often occurs in athletic people — particularly among those who frequently put pressure on their big toe joint.

Turf toe is a type of injury that occurs when there is a sprain of the ligaments involved with movement of the big toe. A sprain refers to a ligament that has been overextended in some way. In some cases, the ligament may even be torn. Turf toe is a painful injury that may limit the movement of those who suffer from it, making it an especially frustrating condition for people with physically active lifestyles or careers.

Symptoms of Turf Toe

Turf toe symptoms may range from mild to severe, depending on the nature of the injury. A minor injury to the big toe may result in localized and mild pain as well as some swelling. More serious injuries to the toe may cause pain that spreads beyond the initial site of the injury. Bruising and swelling are likely to occur. Injuries that involve tearing of the ligament are the most severe. Bruising and swelling in such cases may be much more pronounced, and movement may become painful and difficult.

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Turf Toe - L.A. Orthopedic & Pain Center
Turf Toe - L.A. Orthopedic & Pain Center

Causes of Turf Toe

Extension of the big toe is normal, and something that people do many times a day while simply walking around. When stepping or running, there are moments when the toes are bent, and the toes and ball of the foot carry a larger proportion of body weight than they do when standing still. During these brief moments, it is possible for the big toe to be overextended due to a sudden or repetitive force. For example, a football player in a kneeling position may be suddenly pushed forward, causing the big toe to bend upward toward the leg. If this extension is too great, a turf toe injury may occur.

The same type of injury can occur across many sports as well as during normal daily activity. Although it is possible for turf toe to be caused by repetitive movement, it occurs more commonly as a sudden injury.

Treatment of Turf Toe

In many cases, turf toe can be treated at home without the assistance of a doctor. Treatment of turf toe should begin immediately after the injury is sustained. The most important action to take is to get the patient off of their feet. The duration of rest needed for healing will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Pain caused by turf toe can last for as long as three weeks. Waiting for the pain to subside before resuming strenuous physical activity is the best way to ensure the injury is not worsened or repeated.

Ice packs and over the counter pain medications may be used to reduce pain and swelling. More severe injuries may require tapes or casts to protect the big toe from excessive movement. Occasionally, surgical intervention or physical therapy may be required for very severe turf toe injuries.