Although its name suggests that it affects athletes playing on artificial turf, the truth is that turf toe can happen to anyone. A pickup game of basketball, soccer with your kids, or a weekly tennis match can all require players to push off of the big toe, causing pain and swelling at the toe joint.
Simple and Advanced Treatments to Correct Turf Toe
Turf toe is a sprain in the joint at the base of the big toe. Like any sprain, it happens when the tendons and ligaments are extended beyond their capabilities. A minor sprain involves a painful over-stretching of the connective tissues, causing tenderness and swelling. However, more serious sprains may involve partial or complete tearing of ligaments and tendons, causing difficulty bending or straightening the toe, and extreme pain in the ball that makes running or even walking unbearable.
Depending on the severity of the sprain, interventions for turf toe may include:
- RICE therapy. Athletes rely on RICE—or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation—to treat the swelling and inflammation of foot and ankle injuries. It is vital to discontinue the activity that caused the injury, elevate the foot, and apply ice to the area 2-4 times a day. If the area is swollen, an elastic compression bandage can help stabilize the joint and reduce inflammation.
- Slow conditioning. It may take several weeks for your big toe joint to heal, and it is important to gently ease back into physical activities. Our specialists can advise you on footwear choices and physical therapy exercises to prevent re-injury during healing.
- Surgery. Most turf toe injuries can be successfully treated without surgery. However, if there has been extensive trauma or the toe ligament is completely torn, surgery may be an option.
If you are struggling with a sprain, the foot and ankle specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can create a customized treatment plan to get you pain-free as soon as possible. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your free initial consultation.