Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ

Question:

I listen to Colin Cowherd on sports radio every morning on my way to work. I keep hearing him talk about a new problem called turf toe. I'm smart enough to figure out it's an injury to the toe from playing on artificial turf. But what exactly happens?

Answer:

As you suspected, turf toe describes damage to the base of the big toe. The medical term for this problem is hyperextension injury to the hallux metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. Hyperextension means the toe is bent way back on itself. You've probably seen this occur on TV and not even been aware of it. Picture this: a football player has the ball. He gets tackled and as he goes down, his foot is in a position with the toes in contact with the ground but the foot with the heel up toward the sky. The player doing the tackling goes down with his knee on the ball holder's upended heel. The force of the tackler's knee pushing down on the ball holder's heel is enough to injure the soft tissues and even the joint of the big toe still in contact with the ground. It's called turf toe because most (83 per cent) of these injuries occur on artificial turf. The injury can be mild (grade I) to severe (grade III). Treatment and length of time on the bench depend on the severity of the injury. And as you have also discovered, sports radio and TV hosts talk endlessly about athletes' injuries. With more attention and focus on sports than ever before, it's only a matter of time before turf toe becomes a well-known problem to players, coaches, and fans alike. Jeremy J. McCormick, MD, and Robert B. Anderson. Turf Toe: Anatomy, Diagnosis, and Treatment. In Sports Health. November/December 2010. Vol. 2. No. 6. Pp. 487-494.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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