Turf Toe - Treatment

How was your turf toe treated?

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What is the treatment for turf toe?

Acute management of turf toe injuries includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Immobilization will allow the affected tissues to begin to heal without stressing the joint. Ice will help to manage the discomfort and reduce swelling, while compression will aid in stopping bleeding under the skin surface and prevent fluid accumulation in the joint and surrounding areas. Elevation will drain and prevent fluid from accumulating in the joint. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help to manage pain and inflammation from the injury. A physician may prescribe stronger medications for inflammation. Once the severity and cause of foot pain is determined, a course of corrective and rehabilitative actions can be started. Goals of treatment include pain management, increasing muscle strength and range of motion, maintaining cardiovascular conditioning, and re-establishing neuromuscular control. The following treatments and exercises are instituted at the appropriate phases of recovery.

  • Qualified medical personnel may use electrical medical devices such as ultrasound, various forms of electrical stimulation, LED light therapy (laser), and/or manual therapies to reduce pain and increase circulation to the area to promote healing.
  • Various stretching and strengthening exercises and techniques are gradually added.
    • Rehabilitation will likely include exercises to maintain and improve the range of motion (ROM) of the joint; strengthening exercises of the small muscles of the foot along with the calf, lower leg, and core muscles should be addressed; and cardiovascular conditioning often including stationary biking.
  • Maintenance of fitness levels via modification of activity
    • Substitute for activities that aggravate the pain and soreness. Running causes the body to have repetitive impact with the ground. The use of bicycling, elliptical trainers, step machines, swimming, or ski machines minimize impact and allow the individual to maintain and improve his or her fitness without causing irritation to the injury.
  • Biomechanical evaluation
    • The body will create various changes in the natural movement after an injury. A therapist can evaluate these biomechanical changes and help make the appropriate corrections. Prolonged, uncorrected biomechanical changes may lead to secondary mechanical changes that are painful and difficult to correct and may lead to a poor prognosis and possibly a slow or incomplete recovery from the symptoms.

Footwear often does not provide enough support for the person with turf toe. Corrective and OTC orthotics may also be of use. In-shoe supports (such as a steel insole), prophylactic athletic strapping or bracing, and a decreased range of motion may be needed. Occasionally, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove scar tissue or loose bodies that are in the joint.

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