Turf Toe

  • Author:
    Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI

    Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI, a National Athletic Board Certified Athletic Trainer, graduated from the University of Hawaii and earned his master's degree in human performance with a specialty in corrective therapy from San Jose State University. Jayson also is an active Certified Kinesio Taping Instructor.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are turf toe symptoms and signs?

Turf toe usually has a traumatic sudden onset; most athletes suffering from this injury will recall exactly when and how the injury happened. An athlete who suffers from turf toe may complain of pain around the ball of the foot, particularly on the bottom or plantar surface of the MTP joint. Depending on the severity of the injury, this pain may be present with or without movement, when the toe is bent up toward the body (dorsiflexion of the great toe), or in the toe off portion of the stance phase of gait, and/or against isometric resistance. Intra and/or extracapsular swelling of the joint may be present. Reduction of strength and range of motion is also seen in acute and chronic ranges of motion. Pain and loss of function of the joint and tissues around the joint may cause difficulty walking and maintaining balance.

A good general guideline is to compare the injured side to the uninjured side. The injured tissues may cause a lump or gap or a "crunchy" feeling at that location from the inflammation. There is typically tenderness and there may be warmth, swelling, and discoloration.

When should I seek medical treatment for turf toe?

If the pain and discomfort interferes with one's activities of daily living or if someone cannot perform his or her desired activities without pain, he or she should consider seeking medical attention. Seek medical care if the area looks deformed, if there is loss of function or change in body movement, change of sensation, a large amount of swelling with pain, prolonged change of skin or toenail color, or if the affected area becomes warmer than the surrounding areas and becomes exquisitely tender to the touch.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2015

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