Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint caused by an injury sustained when participating in athletics. Excessive upward bending of the big toe joint is the most common cause of injury.
The issue can be caused by jamming the toe or by repetitive injury from continually pushing off while running or jumping. Although football players are the most typically affected, athletes in soccer, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and dance are also at risk.
At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle, our podiatrists understand how the pain and discomfort of turf toe can disrupt your life. We are here to help develop an individualized treatment plan to help you address the condition and get back to your active lifestyle.
Causes of Turf Toe
Turf toe gets its name from the fact that it's a common injury among athletes who play on artificial turf. When playing sports on artificial grass, the foot might become stuck on the hard surface, causing the big toe joint to become jammed. Some evidence suggests that wearing less-supportive flexible shoes on artificial turf is also to blame.
Other causes of turf toe include:
- Excessive stretching or hyperextension of the big toe joint while pushing off from a surface
- Stepping on an object or heavy impact to the toes during activities
- Having an underlying condition such as arthritis that weakens the ligaments around the toes and makes them more susceptible to injury.
Common Symptoms Associated With Turf Toe
Turf toe is associated with several common symptoms. These symptoms may vary in intensity depending on how severe your condition is.
- Pain and tenderness in the big toe joint
- Swelling or redness around the big toe joint
- Difficulty walking, running, or executing other activities that require pushing off from a surface
- Limited mobility of the big toe joint when attempting to move it up or down
When turf toe is caused by repetitive acts that result in damage, the signs and symptoms normally appear gradually and can worsen over time. Turf toe can also be caused by a direct injury to the bone underlying the cartilage. If the cause is a direct injury, the signs and symptoms may appear rapidly and worsen over the course of 24 hours.