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Greenbay Packer Davante Adams, a star wide receiver on the Wisconsin NFL team, likely won't play against the Cowboys Sunday because of a condition called turf toe, or a strain to the ligaments of the big toe at the ball of the foot.
Adams joins the list of top athletes suffering from the obscure toe strain first recorded after the invention and widespread use of Astroturf and other artificial turfs.
As of the latest NFL updates, Adams' status was still questionable and he wasn't participating in practices.
Adams is just the latest and most high-profile turf toe sufferer in pro football. Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrette may be out for the season because of turf toe, according to Atlanta's 92.9FM sports radio station. A Boston sports station reports Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn's doctors and coaches are deciding week by week whether to let him play because of his turf toe injury.
And though it's more common among athletes playing on artificial grass, turf toe can affect anyone. CBSSports reported Wednesday the Chicago Bulls' Luke Kornet missed a few practice days with turf toe, and could miss a pre-season basketball game or two because of the toe sprain.
What Is the Recovery Time for Turf Toe?
Minor turf toe injuries can usually heal up in a few days, but more severe ones can require surgery and may knock an athlete out of the game for life, according to Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI, a MedicineNet author and athletic trainer.
"The amount of damage to the ligaments, tendons, bones, and surrounding tissues determines the severity of the injury," Dr. Goo says. "Though often referred to as a ligamentous injury or sprain of the MTP joint, the tendons may be strained and bones may be fractured. American football players such as Tom Brady and Deion Sanders and soccer great George Best are among the notable athletes to have suffered from this sports injury."
Turf toe is an injury to the underside of the big toe and joint at the base of the big toe. This joint, the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, is commonly known as the "ball of the foot." Turf toe is specifically a joint sprain of the big toe. The sprain may involve damage to ligaments, tendons, or bone separately or in combination, Dr. Goo says.
The sprain, often a result of playing on artificial surfaces, was first documented in American football players in 1976. Turf toe was recognized as a common injury soon after the invention of AstroTurf in 1964. There are varying degrees of severity of the sports injury. While sometimes mild, which injured athletes can play through, turf toe is sometimes a more serious health condition and can be career-ending, Dr. Goo says.
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, Dr. Goo says.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help to manage pain and inflammation from the injury, he says. 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.