While “turf toe” brings to mind an image of a college or professional athlete playing on artificial turf, it’s a fairly common injury that can affect a wide range of patients – athletes and non-athletes alike. It can be causes by a wide variety of hard surfaces, as well, including basketball courts, natural grass fields and hard floors.
Turf toe is simply a sprain in the ligaments of the big toe joint, which enables the toe to move up and down like a hinge. Jamming the toe, or repeated forces like running or jumping may cause this injury. Bending the big toe back too far toward your foot may also cause this injury.
Early symptoms of turf toe include pain – both acute (immediate, resulting from force or trauma), or chronic (gradually worsening over time), tenderness in the big toe and nearby joint, swelling and stiffness.
In addition to competitive athletes, other active individuals such as ballet dancers, cheerleaders or those who exercise on hard surfaces, may experience turf toe.
Your foot and ankle doctor at Campbell Clinic will conduct a visual exam and may also order X-rays. Generally, rest, ice and elevation will help a patient recover from turf toe. Without proper rest from sport and exercise, the symptoms associated with turf toe may worsen over time. Compliance with recovery is critical to avoid reaggrivation of the injury.