Recognizing Serious Foot Injuries

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Pain And Limited Toe Movement? You May Have Turf Toe

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Are you experiencing pain, stiffness, and a lack of mobility in your big toe? If these symptoms have slowly become worse over time, you may be suffering from a condition known as turf toe. It's most common in football players, but it can also develop in other athletes such as runners, high jumpers, and baseball players. So, what should you do about your condition?

What is turf toe, exactly?

Turf toe is a straining of the ligaments that connect the joints in your big toe. It results from repetitive up-and-down motion of your big toe, such as that which occurs when you run or jump. The ligaments become irritated and start to swell, and the swelling makes it harder to bend your toe.

Usually, the symptoms of turf toe appear suddenly after you over-extend the joint. However, they're usually mild at first and may not keep you from running or participating in your sport. But as you continue to use your foot over the next few days or weeks, the pain and stiffness in your toe become worse as the injured ligaments become more irritated.

What should you do if you think you have turf toe?

Mild cases may heal themselves if you take time off from sports, ice your toe, and spend time each day with your leg elevated. Give this protocol a try for a week or two and see how you feel. You can apply ice three or four times per day, and try to stay off your feet as much as possible.

If you do not experience relief within a week, it's time to see a podiatrist. They will examine your foot, ask you to perform a few stretches, and possibly take x-rays to rule out a fracture.

How is turf toe treated by a podiatrist?

If your podiatrist does diagnose you with turf toe, he or she may advise that you wear a specialized orthotic device for a while to reduce strain on the toe. You may also be shown some exercises to help ease the tension in the ligaments in your toe. In serious cases, you may be told to use crutches to take the weight off your toe. Physical therapy may be needed to bring you back into competitive condition. 

In most cases, your sports injury pain should be gone within a few weeks. You'll need to return to physical activity gradually in order to avoid re-injuring the toe.