Turf Toe Treatment

Turf toe, an increasing problem with high school and college athletes especially, is a condition in which the big toe bends upwards to an abnormal degree, causing pain at the bottom of the big toe, damage to the ligaments that connect the foot to the big toe, and damage to the joint capsule.

Turf toe is a form of a condition known as hallux limitus, which can impair range of motion in the big toe. Turf toe got its name because it’s often associated with athletes who suffer big toe sprains while playing sports on hard artificial turf.

A skilled doctor understands all the aspects of turf toe, how it can interfere with playing sports such as football or soccer, and what the most effective turf toe treatments are.

Turf Toe Symptoms

While there are three levels of severity, typical turf toe symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Restricted movement of the joint at the base of the big toe
  • Tenderness and swelling of the toe
  • Bruising
  • Limping

Diagnosing Turf Toe

The first step in determining turf toe is for your doctor to obtain your accurate history to understand how the injury happened. You may report that you heard a snapping sound at the time of injury. An X-ray of the foot is taken to make sure there are no breaks.

Occasionally, you will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or bone scan to make sure something other than turf toe is causing your problem.

Sprained Toe Treatment

Turf toe treatment can include:

  • Icing the big toe
  • Wrapping it with a compression bandage
  • Heat for pain relief
  • Contrast bath – dipping foot in hot then cold water for a designated period of time
  • NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Resting and elevating the injured foot
  • Brace to protect toe
  • Crutches for two to four days

Your physician can easily and successfully treat your turf toe, which should be healed in about four weeks. If your turf toe remains untreated, it can lead to bone spurs, osteoarthritis, lipping (a liplike growth at the end of the bone) or eburnation (a hardening of the bone that leads to fractures).