Sports Rehab and turf toe are common treatments and injuries found in sports activities such as football, basketball, dance, sprinters, wrestlers and martial arts.
By definition turf toe is simply a strain to the ligament at the base of the great toe. The term turf toe got its origin by athletes playing on artificial surfaces where the cleats tend to stick.
It can also happen with activities on grass but that is mostly due to improper support of the athletic shoe.
From an anatomy standpoint the great toe is made of two joints but the larger joint called the MTP consists of the phalanx (great toe) and metatarsal bone of the foot. When a turf toe injury occurs it involves the metatarsal phalangeal joint (MTP) and the surrounding ligaments/tendons. Turf toe can vary in intensity from a mild stretch, partial tear or dislocation of MTP joint.
Here we will discuss causes, symptoms, sports rehab and prevention of this injury.
The major cause of this injury is when the athletes footwear grips the surface hard and sticks, the forward body motion causes sudden hyperextension of the great toe. When the great toe is bent upwards like this damage can occur to the ligaments underneath and to the bony structure. If an athlete goes through a program of sports rehab he or she is educated in the causes of turf toe.
The most common symptoms associated with turf toe are pain, swelling and limited mobility at the base of the great toe. The symptoms can develop over time or with forceful motion. In many cases with the sudden onset the athlete will hear and feel a popping sound at the base of the great toe.
Initially the athlete must start ice applications to reduce pain and inflammation, take anti-inflammatory medication and rest. A compression bandage will aid in support of and protection of the toe. Reducing the weight bearing affect either by crutches, brace or a firm shoe is recommended. The athlete must prevent the toe from bending in the extended position to allow proper healing.
Sports rehab at this time can consist of the use of ultrasound, electrical stimulation and cold laser. These modalities will accelerate the decrease of pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising related to the injury. The sports rehab specialist will also teach the patient on turf toe taping which prevents the toe from bending in the extended position and decrease stress on the toe. During this time the physical therapist will provide mild passive range of motion exercises to reduce rigidity in the great toe. Patient will be instructed on proper strengthening to the foot and ankle.
A sports rehab program must also be conducted at home under the guidance of the physical therapist. If the athlete does not follow the program limited motion takes hold in the great toe causing the tendency for arthritis and gait deviation. When a patient exhibits gait deviation there is a tremendous amount of stress on the ankle, knee, hip and lower back.
The best way to prevent turf toe is to wear proper athletic shoes to provide better support and stability of the great toe. The athlete should also consider orthotics within the athletic foot wear which is usually custom made. The benefit of being in a sports rehab setting for this is that the specialist can help you recognize any gait deviation that may lead to this injury.
The goal of the sports rehab program is to take the necessary steps to keep this injury from reoccurring.