Turf Toe: A Metatarsalphalangeal Joint Sprain

Turf toe is an injury to the base of the big toe. This is commonly caused by a forceful impact with the ground causing the toe to hyper-extend. The common name of turf toe came from the high occurrence of this injury on older artificial turf surfaces. This injury is commonly seen in football, baseball, and soccer.

Turf toe is often caused by a sudden stop or change in direction, such an injury is not limited to just artificial turf but is more likely to happen on artificial turf rather than grass. What is turf toe exactly? Turf toe is the stretching of the big toe’s joint capsule and or ligaments. A sudden over stretching can cause a tear of the ligaments. The injury can cause significant discomfort with walking as the person bears weight through his or her big toe.  If not taken care of or rested turf toe can become a chronic issue and possible be more prone to arthritis.

What to look for if one suspects turf toe:

    • Sudden pop with sharp pain
    • Pain with pushing off big toe.
    • Pain with raising toe against resistance
    • Joint stiffness
    • Swelling

How is turf toe diagnosed? With turf toe being a soft tissue injury the healthcare professional will take a list of the symptoms provided and then compare them to known research of the injury. Manual muscle testing should be used to asses to overall integrity of the joint in question.  Along with the list of symptoms the healthcare professional could request x-rays to rule out a fracture of the bone.

Once the condition is assessed, where do we go from there? Common initial treatment is rest, ice, compression, elevation. This course of treatment is commonly referred to as R.I.C.E.  This treatment could be used with any type of initial injury. Oral anti-inflammatory medications are also commonly prescribed by the patient’s doctor. Some conservative approaches call for crutches for non-weight bearing. In some cases the healthcare professional may strap the toe with athletic tape or a brace specific to turf toe.

Is physical therapy beneficial and what does Elite PT have to offer that other physical therapy clinics may not?  After any joint injury the musculature of the joint is left weak due to the trauma.  The weakness causes the range of motion of the joint to be lacking in most cases. Physical therapy will speed of the rate of healing to the joint. Through exercise the joint will regain strength and allow the joint to be less likely to be reinjured. Elite PT offers the Alter- G Treadmill which allows our staff to get the patient in an environment where the patient can walk at a minimum of 20% of their body weight. The reduction of body weight allows the patient to walk pain free sooner than with a regular treadmill.

If you are having pain in your feet or have been diagnosed with Turf Toe, please come see us for a free consultation to see how we can assist you in your recovery.  To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:

Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Shelbyville: 931-684-0027
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022

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