Turf toe is a hyper extension injury of the great toe joint. It is caused by a sudden, painful, upward flexion motion of the great toe, which can occur with trauma or with certain sports activities. Individuals who play turf or field sports such as soccer or football are particularly susceptible to this painful injury. When the toe becomes hyper extended, the soft tissue structures underneath the toe become stretched and injured. After the injury, patients begin to experience pain, swelling, and stiffness around the great toe joint. Additionally, extending the great toe elicits pain. Although the diagnosis is often made by taking a detailed history and performing a physical exam, x-rays may be taken in the workup to rule out bony injuries and fracture.
Luckily, turf toe responds well to conservative treatments. Resting, icing, and avoiding barefoot walking will help to reduce symptoms. Staying away from high impact activities is also crucial following the injury. Physical therapy may also help to reduce pain and prevent stiffness. Most importantly, custom molded orthotics will help to support the great toe joint and provide long term relief. Certain accommodations may be added to the orthotic device which offload the painful joint.
The great toe joint bears a tremendous amount of stress during the gait cycle. Do not delay treatment if you have any discomfort in this area! Seek immediate consultation with one of the doctors of Advanced Podiatry.