How Do I Choose the Best Turf Toe Treatment?

Dan Cavallari

Turf toe most commonly occurs among athletes who pivot off the big toe frequently during athletic activity. The toe will sometimes become red and inflamed, and swelling may occur. The toe will feel stiff and painful when moved, and these symptoms are caused by inflammation of the tendons in the toe. Turf toe treatment most often involves the RICE treatment; RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. More serious injuries may require other turf toe treatment options such as an x-ray to eliminate the possibility of bone fractures, and wearing braces or bandages.

If pain persists after the turf toe treatment, a splint may be used to immobilize the area.
If pain persists after the turf toe treatment, a splint may be used to immobilize the area.

When the injury occurs, it is best to stop physical activity and begin turf toe treatment immediately. The first treatment aside from rest is icing, which will help numb the pain and reduce or prevent swelling. Compression using a bandage and elevation by propping up the foot will help promote blood flow to the injury, thereby encouraging faster healing and less pain. This painful condition will often heal on its own after several hours or days of rest, but the athlete will need to stay off the foot for an extended period of time to prevent re-injury or exacerbation of the injury.

If the pain persists, it is wise to visit a doctor who can prescribe a more aggressive turf toe treatment. The doctor may recommend getting x-rays to eliminate the possibility of a bone fracture, which is a more serious condition that may require more aggressive treatment. A doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help the tendons heal faster, or painkilling medications to help alleviate some of the pain associated with this injury. If pain persists, a doctor is likely to recommend immobilizing the toe and front part of the foot by using a brace or bandage. In some cases, wearing a shoe with a firm sole will be enough to prevent the foot from moving excessively. A doctor may even recommend using crutches as part of the turf toe treatment.

If the turf toe is a regular occurrence or chronic condition, it may be a wise decision to visit a specialist who can analyze your walking or running gait. The way you walk or run may increase the risk of turf toe, so the specialist may be able to pinpoint the motion that causes the pain and recommend ways to change behaviors to prevent this condition from occurring again in the future.

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