Brief Outline of Turf Toe
Pain at the base of the big toe may be a result of turf toe. Athletes who jam their toe or repetitively push off when running or jumping are susceptible. Also caused by hyperextending the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe. The name turf toe comes from the fact that this injury is common among athletes who play on artificial turf.
Anatomy and physiology
Turf toe develops at the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe. The capsule that covers this joint is torn, leading to instability and pain. This can lead to dislocations, cartilage wear and eventually arthritis. The tendons that cross the joint can become involved as well. Jamming the toe, or pushing off when running or jumping puts stress on the capsule and can lead to tearing.
Cause of Injury
Jamming the toe. Repetitive pushing off the toe, especially on a harder surface such as artificial turf.
Signs and symptoms
Pain at the base of the toe. Some swelling may be noted in the joint. Pain increases when pushing off with the toe.
Complications if left unattended
Turf toe can lead to chronic pain and the inability to run or jump. When left unattended, turf toe can lead to other conditions such as toe dislocations and arthritis.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Lubricant injection to the joint
Rehabilitation and prevention
As the pain subsides, it is important to work on the strength and flexibility of the toes. Adjusting the way the pressure is applied to the foot when pushing off will also help to correct the conditions(s) that caused the turf toe. Alternating workouts from hard to softer surfaces will help prevent the development of this condition. Special inserts, which support the toe may be used when returning to activity. A gradual return to full activity is important.
Turf toe does have a tendency to return when working out on the same surface. In most cases, pain will subside and normal function will return. In very rare cases, surgery is required to alleviate the symptoms.