When Sports Take Their Toll
Imagine you were sprinting up the sidelines of a field, about to score, when the pain hits. Maybe you collided with another player when it occurred, or perhaps you simply pushed forward too hard with your feet. However it started, the sharp feeling in the ball of your foot by your big toe stops you in your tracks. Turf toe can happen to any athlete or active person, and when it does, the discomfort interrupts your busy life.
Sidelined by Sprains
Turf toe is a sprain in the first joint of the big toe. This injury is generally caused by overextending the toe so it becomes forced beyond its normal range of motion, stressing the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage in the joint. Although any active person can develop this by pushing off the ground too hard, or by repeatedly stubbing that digit, certain sports place additional stress on those tissues. Football, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and dance have participants jumping and pushing off the ground frequently. Athletes that play on artificial surfaces are also at higher risk, since that surface is harder than natural turf.
How the symptoms present depends on how you injured your foot. If the sprain occurred by repeatedly stubbing the toe, then the pain would likely increase over time with the injury. When the problem results from a sudden impact or sprain, the pain is immediate. Swelling and limited movement in the ball of the foot also accompany this injury.
Plan of Action for Treatment
Prompt treatment is important to avoid a worsening condition. Removing pressure from the affected joint prevents additional damage, so you should stay off your foot when the problem occurs. You will also need to have the toe examined to make sure you didn’t rupture any tendons, or break the bones. Dr. Noah Levine will evaluate the injury using imaging technology to get a better look at what is happening inside your body. Once the extent of the damage has been assessed, the doctors can help you tailor a treatment plan to your needs.
Turf toe rarely requires surgery. Most effective treatments are conservative and follow the RICE technique. RICE stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. You will need to take time to rest from your activities so that your tissues can heal. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may need to have the big toe joint immobilized in a brace or boot while it recovers. Icing helps reduce the swelling and relieve pain. Wearing compression socks or a wrap also helps discourage swelling. Keeping the foot elevated forces you to rest it, and reduces the fluid draining into the joint. Once your foot has had time to heal, you may need physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the toe, so it is less likely to reinjure when you start activities again.
Game Strategy for Prevention
Of course, avoiding the injury would be ideal. Since this condition can be caused by sudden trauma to the foot, preventing it is not always possible. You can, however, take steps to make it less likely your foot will hyperextend. Wear stiff-soled athletic shoes that support your foot overall. Custom orthotics can also help stabilize your foot and prevent injury.
When you sprain this important push off point, your whole body and mobility are affected. The pain makes it difficult to bear weight and move your big toe. The problem doesn’t have to cripple your lifestyle, though. With prompt treatment and care, you can get back to your activities and be pain-free. Don’t ignore the discomfort in your big toe joint. Instead, contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists for an appointment or more information to deal with your condition. You can reach our offices by visiting the online contact page, or by calling (702) 839-2010.