Turf Toe

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments of Turf Toe

When talking to a head football coach about their star running back or the ballerina before their diva debut, you don't want to use the term "turf toe." The term "turf toe" refers to a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe joint. Although it is most usually linked with football players who play on artificial turf, athletes in other sports such as soccer, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and dance are also affected. It's a condition induced by jamming the big toe or violently pushing off the big toe, as in sprinting and jumping.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Turf Toe?

Turf toe causes pain, swelling, and limited movement in a joint near the base of one big toe. If the cause is repeated injury, symptoms will emerge gradually and worsen over time. If the damage is caused by a sudden, strong move, it can be painful right away and worsen within 24 hours. When an injury occurs, a "pop" can be heard. The whole joint is usually involved, and toe movement is restricted.

What is the cause of Turf Toe?

Turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe joint, which primarily functions as a hinge to allow up and down motion. Sesamoids are two pea-shaped bones inserted in the tendon that moves your big toe just behind the big toe joint in the ball of your foot. When you walk or run, these bones act as a pulley for the tendon, providing leverage. They help absorb the pressure on the ball of the foot.

When walking or sprinting, you begin each step by elevating your heel and shifting your weight forward onto the ball of your foot. At some point, you move yourself forward by "pushing off" your big toe and shifting your weight to the opposite foot. If the toe remains flat on the ground and does not raise to push off, you run the danger of damaging the area around the joint unexpectedly. If you get tackled or fall forward and your toe stays flat, the effect is the same as if you were sitting and bent your big toe back by hand past its normal limit, causing toe hyperextension.

The hyperextension, if done repeatedly or with enough power, can induce a sprain in the ligaments that surround the joint.

Turf toe is typically a sudden ailment. It is especially common in athletes who play on artificial fields, which are harsher than grass surfaces and are more likely to catch cleats. It can also happen on grass, especially if the shoe being worn does not provide appropriate foot support. Athletes who wear flexible soccer shoes that allow the foot to bend too far forward are more likely to get injured. In order to prevent injury, experts recommend regularly wearing DrLuigi medical footwear.

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