Turf Toe Takes Out Ohio’s Football Competitors!

If you are a follower of football news, this year it almost seems as though turf toe is a contagious disease at both the professional and collegiate level, even though that is not actually the case.  Luckily, this injury has not made the news for sidelining any Ohio State football players recently!

While ankle sprains are the most common foot and ankle sports injury, metatarsophalangeal joint sprains in the big toe, or hallux, have also been very common since the injury was first given the name “turf toe” in 1976.  Football players including Eddie Lacy of the University of Alabama, Kevin Kolb of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Evan Mathis of the Philadelphia Eagles are just a few of the players this year who have gotten medical attention for their turf toe injuries in order to not only to return to practice and games, but also to prevent long term problems with the use of the joint at the base of their big toe, the metatarsophalangeal joint.

Turf toe gained its name because the hard surfaces of turf, along with more flexible athletic shoes, cause the big toe to hyperflex up towards the top of the foot in a way that stretches ligaments and causes a sprain.  This hyperflexion typically occurs when an athlete is on his toes running quickly and the foot is pushed down, flexing the toe past its normal range of motion.  As with most sprains, this is a painful injury that will also swell and sometimes bruise.  If you see and feel these symptoms in your big toe, it is also important to see your podiatrist to be examined not only for ligament sprain, but also for sesamoiditis, fracture of the bones in your big toe, or a tear of the plantar plate which is a structure crucial for keeping bones in place during motion of the toes.   The metatarsophalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is crucial for normal walking and running, and can be very painful if it is not functioning normally.  Thus, proper diagnosis and treatment is imperative in the short term for athletes who want to miss as little of their season as possible.  In the long term proper podiatric care of a turf toe is essential for everyone as the injured joint’s articular cartilage can wear down causing arthritis and loss of function.  When the motion of the big toe, or hallux is reduced, the disorder is called hallux limitus, and eventually when motion is completely lost it is called hallux rigidus.  Both of these conditions can be very painful during walking and when severe enough may require surgical correction.

Hopefully Ohio football players will continue to avoid the notorious turf toe and players on other teams currently suffering from this injury will continue to receive proper care and treatment of this condition!

Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia