Regardless of who you were rooting for in Super Bowl LI hosted here in Houston, you have to admire Atlanta Falcons player Julio Jones. His spectacular catch in the fourth quarter was one for the record books and he made it despite suffering from a severe turf toe injury. At Texas Foot Specialists, turf toe is a sports injury that we see frequently in both serious and amateur athletes.
What is Turf Toe?
Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint. This sprain can occur as the result of a sudden injury, such as jamming the toe in a play or from repetitive upward bending of the joint over time. Football players (as well as those who play basketball, soccer, wrestle or do gymnastics) are especially at risk for Turf Toe. This injury is particularly common among athletes who play on an artificial turf field because the surface often causes the foot to stick and then jam--hence the name, Turf Toe.
Signs and Symptoms
Turf toe can be recognized by pain and swelling at the base of the big toe and limited range of motion in the joint. If the cause of the injury is a sudden trauma, the symptoms may begin immediately and worsen over the following 24 hours. If the turf toe is due to repetitive stress to the joint, the symptoms may come on gradually and get worse over time.
Our podiatrists, Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Gregory Mangum, will need to examine your toe and may order x-rays or other advanced imaging studies to make sure there are no broken bones. Treatment of turf toe will depend on the extent of the injury. Jones was observing the first line of defense with his turf toe by sitting out most of the practices the week leading up to Super Bowl and resting his toe. The RICE regimen-- rest, ice, compression and elevation—is commonly recommended to speed healing. In some cases, the foot doctor may recommend a change to less flexible footwear for your sports activity.
Unfortunately in severe cases, like Jones’ injury, surgery may be the only way to alleviate pain and fully restore the function of the toe. At least he has a long rest period coming up!
If you’ve experienced any pain or swelling in your big toe joint contact our Houston, Pasadena or Sugarland office for an appointment to evaluate your toe at your soonest convenience. Playing with a turf toe injury will only make it worse.