Think about the pain and weakness that follows a sprain. Your limb hurts to move and doesn’t function at full strength. Most people think of their ankles when they imagine lower limb sprains, but those aren’t the only joints susceptible to this damage. Turf toe is another painful sports injury that affects athletes and active people.

Spraining the Big Toe

Turf toe is a problem with over-stretching or tearing the supportive ligaments around the big toe. Athletes on artificial turf are particularly susceptible to the problem. Sudden, sharp pressure can bend the toe backwards past the normal range of motion at the ball of the foot, straining the connective tissues there. Occasionally the problem is related to repeatedly jamming the toe joint rather than a single traumatic injury. The ligaments around the joint are painfully strained, causing inflammation, swelling, and difficulty with movement.

The severity of this sports injury can vary. A low-grade sprain just over-stretches the connective tissues. You have a limited range of motion and pain around the joint. Usually this heals after a few days of care. A mid-grade sprain involves small, partial tears in the connectors. You develop significant tenderness and swelling around the ball of the foot. You may have some bruising as well. This may take a few weeks to recover with proper care. A high-grade sprain is a serious injury. One or more of the supporting ligaments is ruptured, painfully destabilizing the digit. You end up with severe discomfort, swelling, and bruising. You may not be able to move the toe or use it to push off the ground at all. This can take an extended period of time to fully recover.

Repairing the Damage, Eliminating Toe Pain

Like other sprains, the sooner you take care of your injury, the easier and quicker it will heal. Taking care of the damage is important—failing to do so could lead to chronic weakness and pain. You do have several recovery options to treat your toe, though most are conservative. We will carefully examine your lower limbs and use tests to accurately diagnose your condition. Once our staff has ruled out other possible sports injuries that may cause this kind of discomfort, you can begin treatments to repair the damage in and around your joint.

First, you need to rest your foot to prevent continued strain. Avoid all hard-impact activities or exercises that bend or otherwise puts pressure on the big toe. The more severe the toe pain, the more likely you’ll need to immobilize your foot to avoid stressing the joint. Sometimes wearing a stiff-soled shoe that limits bending at the ball of the foot is enough. Serious sprains may need a brace or even a cast to keep the digit stable so it can heal.

You’ll need to bring down the swelling and inflammation as well. Icing the area regularly and wrapping it in a compression bandage may help. Keep your foot elevated as much as you can to discourage edema as well. As your foot heals, you’ll most likely need physical therapy to help restore your joint flexibility and strength. If your toe pain isn’t responding to conservative treatments, you may need a surgery to repair the damaged ligaments.

Turf toe is a painful sports injury that can sideline you for a while. If you invest in your recovery options, though, you’ll help prevent long-term side effects of the injury. Don’t wait to take care of your feet. Let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you. Just contact us for more information or an appointment.