dirty bare foot on artificial turf showing turf toeAnyone can develop turf toe. However, as the name of the condition suggests, athletes who play on artificial turf, such as football, lacrosse, and soccer players, are most likely to get turf toe.

Turf toe can be caused by repetitive stress or trauma to the joint at the base of the big toe. It often occurs when the big toe joint is hyperextended, making it susceptible to tears of the ligaments that support it. These tears can cause pain, swelling, difficulty walking, and other challenges.

Turf Toe Symptoms

Any of the following symptoms could be signs of turf toe:

  • Pain and tenderness in the big toe. Turf toe is a condition that results in pain and tenderness in the big toe. The pain is typically worse when the toe is moved or when pressure is applied to it.
  • Swelling and bruising around the big toe. Swelling and bruising are other common symptoms of turf toe. The swelling usually occurs within 24 hours of the injury, making the big toe feel stiff and sore. Bruising may also develop around the big toe, which can be painful to touch.
  • Difficulty moving the big toe. Turf toe can also cause difficulty moving the big toe. This may make it difficult to stand, walk, or run. In some cases, turf toe may even cause the big toe to become “locked” in place, making it impossible to move it at all.
  • Limited range of motion in the big toe. A limited range of motion is another symptom of turf toe. This means that you may not be able to move your big toe as far as you usually could. You may have difficulty running or walking, and everyday activities such as putting on shoes and socks may be more challenging.

It’s essential to get an accurate diagnosis if you experience one or more of these symptoms. That way, you can get the treatment you need to return to your regular activities.

Turf Toe Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect you have turf toe, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The first step in diagnosis is a physical examination. Your doctor will look for signs of swelling and tenderness around the base of your big toe. They may also ask you to walk or run so they can see how your toe moves. In some cases, X-rays or MRI scans may be ordered to rule out other conditions, such as a fracture, and to check for tears in your ligaments and tendons.

Not every case of turf toe is the same. Your podiatrist may diagnose you with a:

  • Grade 1 injury. A grade 1 injury indicates trauma that stretches the plantar complex. Symptoms may include soreness and a small amount of swelling.
  • Grade 2 injury. Grade 2 injuries are more significant than grade 1 turf toe injuries. A grade 2 injury indicates a partial tearing of the plantar complex. Symptoms may include significant soreness, swelling, and bruising.
  • Grade 3 injury. A grade 3 turf toe injury is the most significant. It happens when there is a complete tear of the plantar complex. People who suffer from this type of turf toe injury experience severe soreness, swelling, and bruising and often have trouble moving their big toes.

Once turf toe has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatments may include rest, ice, compression, elevation, and a walking boot. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Your podiatrist will thoroughly review all of the potential treatments with you so that you can make an informed decision.

Don’t Let Turf Toe Go Untreated

If you think you may have turf toe, contact a sports injury podiatrist in Twin Falls or Burley today. You deserve to live pain-free and return to the activities you enjoy. Dr. Matt Wettstein would be pleased to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your foot pain. Call our Twin Falls office (208) 731-6321 or our Burley, ID office (208) 312-4646 or contact us online to schedule your appointment.