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Turf Toe

In the simplest terms, Turf Toe refers to a sprain of the main joint of the big toe. 

What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe refers to acute sprain or injury of the connective tissue elements that supports the big toe (also called as metatarsophalangeal or plantar complex). It usually occurs due to a hyperextension of the big toe, such as pushing off when sprinting. 

To help plan treatment for turf toe, doctors grade the injuries from 1 to 3 — mild to severe.

  • Grade 1. The plantar complex has been stretched, causing pinpoint tenderness and slight swelling.
  • Grade 2. A partial tearing of the plantar complex causes more widespread tenderness, moderate swelling, and bruising. Movement of the toe is limited and painful.
  • Grade 3. The plantar complex is completely torn, causing severe tenderness, severe swelling, and bruising. It is difficult and painful to move the big toe.

Turf Toe

Signs and Symptoms of Turf Toe

Turf toe usually presents as:

  • restriction of toe movement
  • pain and swelling of the anterior foot (more pronounced at the level of big toe)
  • compromised functional mobility.

Causes of Turf Toe

This condition is fairly common in athletes who are associated with dynamic sports activities. Turf toe is usually a result of repetitive foot trauma (such as frequent jumping or running), use of inappropriate footwear and improper running surfaces (such as glass instead of grass).

Some risk factors that may increase your risk of developing turf toe are:

  • Repetitive and stressful physical activities such as climbing, dancing, gymnastics, rugby, jumping, running and soccer
  • History of bone disorders
  • Poor vitamin D intake
  • Poor coordination
  • Improper or ill-fitting footwear (risk increases several folds if athlete is playing on artificial turfs)

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