Atlanta Falcon’s wide receiver, considered by some to be the best wide receiver in the NFC, is considering surgery for his turf toe injury.  What is Turf Toe?

According to WebMD, “ ‘Turf toe’ is the common term used to describe a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. Although it’s commonly associated with football players who play on artificial turf, it affects athletes in other sports including soccer, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and dance. It’s a condition that’s caused by jamming the big toe or repeatedly pushing off the big toe forcefully as in running and jumping.”  Artificial turf increases the incidence of this injury, leading to the name this particular sprain is known by.

 (photo courtesy of okfootmd.com)

At Twin Cities Foot and Ankle Clinic, we treat patients from professional athletes to high school athletes with this problem.  A patient will usually present after a particular injury that they can point to, and the pain just stays.  It will affect how they use the foot, and will affect their ability to perform in their particular sport.  As a result of walking in such a way to avoid the big toe joint pain, they may also present with knee or hip pain, as well.

Treatment usually starts with taping the foot and toe joint to stop upward movement of the joint, rest, ice and antiiflammatory medications.  For the vast majority of patients, this is all we need to do.  The physician may choose to include various types of physical therapy measures such as ultrasound, ESWT, light therapy, and manual therapy.  A good biomechanical evaluation of the foot is also recommended to find ways to prevent recurrence of the injury.  An X-Ray of the foot can often tell us if there is damage to the bone or cartilage that is aggravating the problem.

If these do not work, a corticosteroid injection into the joint may be necessary.

Lastly, if all of those measures do not resolve the problem,  advanced imaging such as MRI, CT or Ultrasound may be employed to see if there is cartilage or bone damage that is too subtle to be seen on plain X-Ray.  If there is a loose bone spur, or damage to the cartilage in the joint, then surgical intervention may be necessary.

We wish Julio well on his road to recovery!