Fall sports will be starting up soon, with many teams already holding practices – and unfortunately, many athletes already getting hurt! Risk of injury is a part of playing sports, and one common culprit that kicks you to the side line is a turf toe injury. Don’t let the name fool you, though – the injury originally got its name from the fact that it was a common occurrence in football players competing on artificial turf, but the fact is, it doesn’t matter if you play football, soccer, lacrosse or run cross-country, any athlete can get turf toe – whether on turf or not!
Basically, this injury is a sprain of the big toe, occurring when the toe is planted, but weight continues its momentum forward, overextending the soft tissues surrounding the big toe joint. Toes that get jammed or are stuck in one direction while your body is forced in another are vulnerable to this injury. Toes that endure repetitive stress are also prone to the problem – which pretty much covers the whole spectrum of sports! So, what do you do if it happens to you?
First off, come see us so we can determine the extent of the injury. Treatment typically entails the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You may have to keep the toe immobilized with tape or a walking boot, too. If the injury is severe and tissues are actually torn, your foot may need to be casted with the toe in a downward position. Physical therapy will follow to regain strength and range of motion and prevent joint stiffness.
Depending on the severity, turf toe can take anywhere from 3 days to several weeks to heal. For a speedy recovery, and to reduce risk of re-injury, don’t jump back into activity too soon, keep up your RICE routine, and protect your turf toe by taping it. Make sure your athletic shoes are in good shape and provide plenty of toe room, cushion, and support. Sticking to this game plan will help you get off the sideline as soon as possible.
For more information, help with turf toe, or a physical examination, call (609) 924-8333 in Princeton, or (908) 687-5757 in Roselle Park. Our team is always ready to help!