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Going Toe to Toe with Turf Toe

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What is turf toe? I have to admit, when I first heard of this term, it tickled my funny bone, which, now that I think of it, would be another cool orthopedic topic! Visions of funny-looking toes entered my mind, especially knowing that my 105-year-old grandma has someone drive her 30 miles every other Saturday to some salon in the nearby “big city” to get her toe nails trimmed. That’s actually a scary thought in my book! One hundred and five year old toes could present with horrifying conditions still yet to be named! Thank goodness she at least gets the toe nails polished! With swimsuit season right around the corner, that is a must!

So, in reference to my initial question, I took to the task of doing some research to understand what this condition is. Turf toe causes pain at the base of the big toe. This condition is usually brought on from either stubbing the toe or repeatedly pushing off of it through such activities as running or jumping. While pain is the chief complaint, it can also be accompanied by stiffness and swelling.
This condition got its name because it commonly affects athletes who play on artificial turf. When you combine the hard surface of the turf with the running and jumping associated with sports such as soccer and football, turf toe can be a result of these activities. It has been argued that turf toe can afflict athletes who wear flexible shoes with less support to the joints at the front of the foot.

When someone has been diagnosed with turf toe, what has actually happened is that the capsule surrounding the joint at the base of the toe has been torn. The resulting issue is extreme pain at the site. Additionally, when this capsule is torn, the foot can become unstable and the joint at the base of the toe can become dislocated. This can potentially lead to arthritis of the big toe. While making a diagnosis of turf toe is fairly easy, the attending physician may order x-rays to be sure that there is no related fracture or evidence of arthritis.

When treating turf toe, the main focus is in controlling the inflammation of the joint capsule.

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Thanks, Pat! She does have some incredible stories to tell. And I hope to have her book released later this year and intend to have it be the next "Marley & Me" on the big screen...without the tail, but with all of the mischief!


March 12, 2010 - 7:28pm
HERWriter Guide

You're right, Ann. Turf Toe does sound like something funny, but when you learn about what it actually is, and the pain involved, it's serious stuff. I had never heard of this before, thanks for making us aware of this condition...and your 105-year-old grandma. I bet she's got some incredible stories to tell! Take care, Pat

March 12, 2010 - 5:33pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.