Playing sports is surely a great way to make yourself have an active lifestyle. Aside from making one have a fit body, it helps sharpen the mind as playing sports usually needs one to plan strategy and ways to reach better performance or win a match. However, this also increases the likelihood of a person acquiring sport injury. There are so many injuries that could happen relating to sport activity, one of them is a turf toe.
Turf toe is simply described as a sprain of the main joint of the big toe. This injury is often precipitated by a hyperextension of the toe when it is bent upwards. One of the easy ways for a person to get turf toe is when a person is at the starting line of a running competition, pushing off during the start of the race while the toe is stuck flat on the ground. Athletes playing on artificial fields have high tendencies for turf toe compared to a natural grass field as artificial fields are much more rigid and put more strain on the athlete’s feet. Turf toe is also typically happening with sports such as basketball, soccer, American football and gymnastics.
Turf toe refers to injury of any soft tissue structure of the plantar complex which makes up the joints inside the toe relating to finger toe. The injury can range from stretching of the soft tissues, partial tearing and at times total dislocation of the toe finger joint. Hence, symptoms of turf toe are dependent on how severe the injury is. Common symptoms include pain and swelling of the toe joints. The way a person walks will show an antalgic gait, a type of walk that indicates a person having pain when walking and this person will avoid stepping the ground for a long time using the particular painful toe.
The question now is, how do you fix a turf toe? Before that, making sure you are having a turf toe may not be that easy. Even a healthcare professional will need to do some examination on the foot by checking for swelling signs and identifying the range of motion of the joint by bending or moving it in a few directions. A limited range of motion indicates a joint problem. Sometimes a doctor may ask for imaging studies like x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to get a better picture of the toe especially when the doctor suspected tears or toe joint dislocated.
Thus, to fix a turf toe when you suspect it, is by using RICE protocol (not the rice you eat for sure) as the first-aid treatment. This protocol does not only apply for turf toe but for any sports-related injuries. RICE are:
- Rest by avoiding using the foot
- Ice by using cold pack on the injured foot for 20 minutes, several times a day
- Compression by wearing a bandage to compress it
- Elevation by placing the leg higher up while at rest to reduce swelling
Just like with any other painful sensation, you can use painkillers to subside the turf toe pain. Taping the big toes to smaller toes can help limit movement. Usage of orthotics when wearing shoes can provide food stability and avoid further turf toe. Walking boots may be prescribed to restrict movement of the joint. Sometimes even put in a cast. Physical therapy can help regain toe strength and strengthen the big toe. If these steps have been taken for more than 4-6 weeks and yet show no signs of improvement or becoming worse, surgical repairs are likely to be offered when it affects an athlete’s performance or indeed a severe case.