Turf Toe Treatment

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What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe might have a funny name but it can be a real pain. This injury of the big toe gets its name from the artificial turf that many sports are played on, particularly American football. However, turf toe does not just affect football players but soccer players, baseball players, ballet dancers, or anyone who stubs, jams, or overextends their big toe. The condition itself is a hyperextension injury of the big toe joint that can be the result of trauma from stubbing the toe or from repeatedly jumping off the foot like one does from the starting blocks of a race.

turf toe


Turf toe is generally caused by repeated trauma or hyperextension of the big toe, so it is often related to sports activity. However, as with any injury from repeated movements, it can happen with anyone who does these movements whether they participate in sports or not. The flexibility and fit of shoes has been linked to cases of turf toe. A firm shoe insole along with taping can help with prevention and recovery. The overwhelming majority of turf toe cases involve some time spent playing on artificial turf because artificial turf can sometimes cause the foot to stick in place and that causes the big toe to jam. So it follows that avoiding artificial turf when possible will also help with prevention.


The symptoms of turf toe are simply pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the big toe. These symptoms might be mild at first and then get worse over the course of a day. If you experience these symptoms and they do not subside, it is important to visit a doctor and get a correct diagnosis. The doctor may order imaging such as an MRI or an X-ray to determine if you have turf toe, as opposed to a broken bone or other condition, and the extent of your injury.

Artificial turf


For mild cases, turf toe can be treated with rest, ice, and elevation. For mild to moderate cases, some immobilization of the joint and time off the field may be necessary. For severe cases, surgery may be needed with several weeks of recovery time. Though the percent of cases that require surgery are low, the potential of a surgical treatment emphasizes just how bad turf toe can get if ignored. So while this injury may seem small or even routine for an athlete, taking preventative measures may help you avoid weeks of recovery down the road.

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