When you hear the word turf, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like me and love steak and lobster, you mind goes right to a huge plate of delicious surf and turf. Now, to make your stomach go from growling to not even the slightest bit hungry, I will present another association to the word turf. If you play or watch sports, you know turf is something you play on. In the sports medicine world, the word turf is primarily linked to a condition known as turf toe. In short, imagine your big toe bending all the way backwards. Ouch. Turf toe came about from an injury that occurred primarily while playing on artificial grass. In field sports long distance running is interrupted by moments of quick turns, sharp movements, or if you are Matt Cassel of the Kansas City Chiefs, even hard tackles. When the big toe is flexed beyond its normal limits, from an exaggerated movement or an imposed force, the ligaments that connect the toe bone to the metatarsal bone can tear. The toe can even become dislocated in severe cases. Over the years turf toe has played a part off the field, too. It can be seen in basketball, dance and gymnastics as well. No matter the sport, turf toe can have disastrous consequences that could ruin an athlete’s career.
A turf toe will present itself post-injury, as a swollen, inflamed and painful first toe joint, right in the ball of the foot. It probably will hurt to even walk on. In Dr. Green’s office, x-rays will be performed in order to rule out a broken bone or dislocated joint. The goal of treatment is to immobilize the toe so the ligaments can heal. This can be accomplished in a few different ways. Ice, elevation, anti-inflammatory medication and rest may be effective treatments for a minor injury. However, the podiatrist may encourage the use of a walking boot for more severe cases. When the ligaments are healed, the toe may need physical therapy to regain normal movements.
If you are a weekend athlete or in the pros and you hurt your toe, call Kansas City Foot and Ankle. If it is not treated properly you could be sidelined permanently. Get back on the field quickly with an appointment with Dr. Mark Green.