Turf Toe

What is turf toe?

Turf toe is when the hallux (great toe) is forcefully bent into a hyperextended position, such as pushing off into a sprint or when falling into a hole in the ground.

How is turf toe diagnosed?

Turf toe is typically diagnosed by clinical exam and a thorough medical history. Knowing the mechanism of the injury will greatly help in diagnosing this problem correctly. X-rays may be taken in order to rule out any dislocation or fracture of the bones. MRI may be ordered in order to rule out any kind of soft tissue damage. Tendons and ligaments can all be compromised with this injury so seeing the whole picture with an MRI can be very helpful.

How do you treat turf toe conservatively?

Immobilizing the big toe joint by taping it to the second toe can help. If you immobilize the injured toe the healing process can occur more easily as opposed to constantly moving the toe around. A walking boot may be dispensed to help limit motion of the foot and more importantly the great toe. Icing, elevation, compression, and rest are all things that can be done to aid in the healing process.

Surgical treatment of turf toe includes?

Although surgical intervention is not usually utilized there are a few instances where it is warranted. A displaced fracture that leads to instability and possible joint damage is a definite finding that would require surgery. If the toe is unstable then reconstruction of the soft tissue and possible boney correction will be required. Essentially the foot surgeon will repair any damage caused by the injury by placing the bone and tissues back to their appropriate physiologic positions.

What happens after injury and repair?

Typically the patient will experience chronic pain due to damage to the cartilage of the big toe joint. Stiffness may also occur in the big toe joint since the soft tissue surrounding the joint can scar down and cause limited motion. Cartilage damage can also lead to increased bone formation around the joint which can also result in stiffness to the joint. Physical therapy will be required in order to regain proper range of motion of the big toe joint.

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