Turf toe

Turf toe is an injury to the big toe where soft tissues around the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint tear. It happens when the big toe is bent over severely or over-extended and the foot is driven into or caught in the ground. It’s more common in athletes such as rugby or football players.

What should you do if you think you may have a turf toe injury?

It’s a good idea to make an appointment to see a specialist orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon within a few days to make sure the toe is not fractured.

What are the symptoms?

The toe is painful and there is bruising and inflammation around it.

How is it diagnosed?

An X-ray of the foot is used to examine the sesamoid bones under the big toe, which can move from their normal position as a result of the injury, or even fracture. An MRI scan may also be used to diagnose the soft tissue damage often seen with a turf toe injury.

How is it treated?

If the soft tissue injury around the big toe joint is a simple sprain then treatment with rest, ice (crushed and wrapped in a towel, then applied several times a day to reduce swelling), compression and elevation (raising your foot above the level of your heart) can be successful, while gradually returning to your normal level of activity. If the soft tissue injury is more severe and involves a tendon rupture, bone fracture or ligament tear, then you may need to have surgery.

How long can it take to recover?

Returning to your normal activities, including sports, depends on how seriously the soft tissue has been damaged. Simple sprains of the joint can recover more quickly than more serious injuries of the tissues or tendons. Over 85% of people return to full sporting activity within four to six months although some symptoms, including minor stiffness in the toe, may continue.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.


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