If you watch sports on TV or have a friend or family member that plays sports you may have heard of the term, “turf toe”, but not known what it entails. Turf toe is actually a sprain of your big toe joint. It doesn’t have to happen on artificial turf to be named this but the sprain is common while playing on artificial turf because of how hard the surface is. The sprain occurs when the big toe is violently/quickly forced upward while the foot is planted on the ground. This mechanism can occur with sudden push offs or a cutting or pivot motion. Knowing the anatomy of the area is important to understand the injury. Beneath the big toe joint there is a strong ligament that connects the metatarsal bone (part of the foot) to the proximal phalanx bone (base of the big toe). Within the ligament there are two pea sized bones on each side called sesamoids. When this ligament is damaged it can either be stretched, torn, fracture a portion of a sesamoid, fracture a portion of the metatarsal, fracture a portion of the proximal phalanx or a combination of these.
Pain is located at the big toe joint and is usually worse at the bottom. It may become swollen and red. It is usually painful to bear weight or move the joint. When you are being evaluated for this injury, we will perform a thorough lower extremity physical exam on both feet and ankles. We will examine the range of motion and the multiple bones/ligaments that make up the big toe joint. An X-Ray will be taken to evaluate the toe joint. This allows us to see the bony structures of the joint to rule out any obvious fracture. An MRI may be ordered to allow us to check the ligament for tears or small fractures that aren’t visible on X-Rays. Treatment options and recovery time is varied depending on your level of injury. In minor injuries, you may only need to tape the area to restrict motion and wear an orthotic. Some people may need to be non-weight bearing in a walking boot or cast to completely immobilize joint. Others may need surgery to repair the joint.
At Advanced Foot and Ankle Center, we have experience dealing with this issue. If you have pain at the big toe joint or any other foot/ankle ailment, please call us at 972-542-2155 to be evaluated.