Before he got in trouble for other issues with his feet, aka tripping, Duke’s Grayson Allen was slowed in 2016 by something called Turf Toe.
So what is Turf Toe?
Turf Toe is when you sprain the ligaments around your big toe joint.
The term comes from football and is much more common on artificial turf.
It can affect any sport or activity where you have to push off forcefully or jump. It’s an issue in the ballet world, for example, where people dance on point (in other words, the ballet shoe is pointing straight down and the dancer is balancing on his or her toes).
Your big toe joint acts a hinge to allow an up or down motion.
There are two small bones behind the big toe joint, in the ball of your foot, called sesamoids. They help to provide leverage when you walk or run. With each step you come down on the ball of your foot and then push up off your big toe and repeat with the other foot.
The problem comes in when the toe doesn’t lift properly – this can allow an injury to occur.
Imagine how this is affected in football where collisions are a part of every play and you may or may not have full control over what any part of your body does.
When your toe is hyperextended repeatedly, you can get a painful sprain but turf toe tends to happen suddenly.
Turf Toe Symptoms
How would you know if you had it?
Well pain is a giveaway.
Your toe will hurt, it may swell and you’ll have limited movement in the ball of your foot. Sometimes you may even feel a pop.
You will almost certainly want to see your doctor, who will ask you to tell him or her as much as you can about what happened, what you were doing, the kinds of shoes you were wearing and so forth.
He’ll examine your foot, comparing it to your other one, and may order X-rays or, in some cases, an MRI, bone scan or CT scan.
Turf Toe Treatment
Fortunately treatment is pretty straightforward. Rest is key, along with ice, compression and elevation. You may get some mild anti inflammatories like Ibuprofen. Your foot may also be immobilized to allow the joint time to heal. You may get a boot or walking cast. In rare cases surgery may be required.
It takes 2-3 weeks to heal.
Of course the ideal is to prevent injuries. To stop turf toe, one key is to wear shoes with great support to keep the toe joint as stable as possible. Your doctor may also suggest insert and physical therapy.
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