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Turf toe can occur after a very vigorous upward bending of the big toe causing a sprain to the ligaments under base of the big or great toe. We explain the symptoms, treatment and a simple taping technique to protect the toe.
Symptoms of turf toe include swelling and pain at the joint of the big toe and metatarsal bone in the foot. Pain and tenderness will be felt on bending the toe or pulling it upwards. See Turf toe assessment and diagnosis for more detailed information on how a professional podiatrist would diagnose turf toe.
Turf toe is simply a sprain to the ligament at the base of the big toe or great toe. It can be caused as the shoe grips hard on the surface and sticks causing bodyweight to go forward and so bending the toe up. It is also common in martial arts. You are more at risk if you have increased range of motion in the ankle and / or wear soft flexible shoes.
When the toe is bent upwards this causes damage to the ligaments under the toe which can become stretched. In addition the surfaces of the bones at the joint can become damaged. An X-ray is usually recommended to check that there is no fracture present.
If pain in the joint at the base of the big toe (called the MTP joint) comes and goes, lasting for around at a week at a time, with no obvious cause then consider gout as a possible cause of the toe pain.
What can the athlete do to treat turf toe?
What can a sports injury professional do?
Recovery of this injury can take three to four weeks depending on how bad the sprain is. If the athlete does not look after this injury then it may develop into Hallux Limitus / Rigidus! This is a decreased range of motion due to arthritis around the joint. This can cause problems in the rest of the foot or lower limb due to changes to your walking cycle (gait).