Turf Toe.. More Serious Than You Think

Turf toe sounds like a minor injury that only involves a single toe, however it can be a career ending injury like it was for Deion Sanders. It commonly occurs in athletes who play sports on artificial turf, hence the name “turf” toe. This injury occurs when athletes bend their big toe beyond its normal flexibility. Cleats often get stuck in divots in artificial turf leading to hyper extension of the toe. Hyper extension of the big toe can take place every time the athlete pushes off with their toes to start running. This motion occurs multiple times during every game and practice eventually over time the big toe becomes sprained.

The severity of the injury is graded from 1 to 3

Grade

Injury

Treatment

1

Mild sprain

  • RICE – rest, ice, compress, elevate

  • Taping the toe to restrict movement

  • Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication

2

Partial tear of the capsule and ligaments

  • Same as Grade 1 + walking boot to immobilize the big toe joint

3

Complete tear of the capsule and ligaments

  • Same as Grade 1 + walking boot or cast for immobilization

 

Physical therapy should also be implemented to prevent stiffness in the joint and gain adequate range of motion. Surgery is often not needed, but is an option for some cases.

Foot& Ankle Doctors, Inc recommend athletes who return to sports should have their shoes modified with a steel shank or stiff insoles to restrict hyper extension of the toe.

Dr. Nejad

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