Recently several athletes such as Penn State’s Devon Still, Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb, and New Orleans Saints’ Mark Ingram have been suffering from a common injury known as turf toe. Although turf toe often affects football players, it can happen to anyone. Turf toe refers to an injury to the ligaments and joint capsule of the first (big) toe. Often for athletes, this injury occurs when wearing flexible shoes on a hard surface like turf. The specific injury to the first toe typically involves hyperextension (hyperdorsiflexion) beyond its range of motion. To explain, when walking the heel lifts up and places pressure on the ball of the foot. Typically, the toes will then aid in propulsion; however, if the first toe fails to aid in propulsion and remains planted to the ground, then there is a risk of turf toe. The injury can also occur with jamming or stubbing of the toe. The symptoms of turf toe are pain which may last for a couple of weeks, swelling, bruising, decreased range of motion of the first toe joint, and sometimes even a pop can be felt or heard upon injury.
There are three grades of turf toe. Grade 1 is characterized by stretching of the joint capsule. Grade 2 has an incomplete tear of these soft tissue structures, and grade 3 turf toe has a complete tear. Pain, tenderness, swelling, and bruising typically increase with higher grades. At Atlantic Foot and Ankle Associates, turf toe is treated depending on the grade of the injury, starting with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Often anti-inflammatory medications will be taken as well. It is extremely important to avoid bearing weight on the toe for approximately 2-4 days and resting an additional 3-4 weeks. If the injury is more severe and a higher grade, crutches or a cast and toe spica may be needed. Extremely severe injuries may even require surgery.
If you’ve suffered an injury such as turf toe, do not hesitate to come into one of our four offices located in Orange City, Daytona Beach, Palm Coast and Port Orange. Remember, this type of injury does not only affect athletes, it can happen to anyone.