Turf toe can be painful, but treatment options are available.
Turf toe is a term used to describe a sprain of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which is a joint in the big toe. The most common cause of the spraining, or jamming, of this joint is impact from a contact injury in sports. The injury gets its name from the unforgiving synthetic grass used on sports fields where this type of injury originated. Treatment methods for turf toe range from home remedies to surgery.
1. Try “RICE,” which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. These steps are standard for many sports-related sprains and strains. Take a rest from physical activity for at least 24 to 48 hours after the injury, especially ones that may aggravate your turf toe. Ice the toe on and off, 20 minutes at a time every three or four hours. Wrap your toe in a bandage to limit range of motion in the achy joint, but keep the bandage loose enough so you do not cut off blood circulation. If your toe becomes numb, the wrap is too tight. Finally, elevate your toe by lying down and propping your foot on a couple of pillows. Keep the level of your toe above your heart to help reduce swelling.
2. Use orthotics to help relieve toe joint pain. Orthotics include a wide range of inserts and wraps that help to limit range of motion and provide support to sprained toes. Dancer’s pads are felt pads that fit right under the forefoot and help redistribute pressure away from your big toe as you step. A turf toe strap wraps around the toe and has a tail that runs along the bottom of the foot. Turf toe straps help limit the range of movement of the toe, which helps the toe rest and heal. Simple arch supports can also help by allowing you shift more weight to your heel as you walk because of the extra heel support these orthotics provide.
3. If your turf toe pain and swelling does not subside after RICE treatment and orthotics, consult a physician because you may need surgery. Surgeons can implant new tissue into your foot or even fuse your toe joints together if your turf toe injury is severe. Most surgical procedures for turf toe allow patients to bear at least partial weight on the foot with the damaged toe on the first day after surgery. However, do not expect to return to athletic activity until several weeks after surgery.