Toe > Treatments
When you are diagnosed
with minor, grade I turf toe, physicians typically recommend
R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) treatment.
– take a few days of rest from your sport or activity.
Try to limit the amount of time you spend bending your
– you should ice your toe for about 15 to 20 minutes
every three to four hours for two or three days until
your pain decreases. A common ice treatment is to dunk
your foot in a bucket of iced water.
– to help reduce pain and swelling, your physician
also may recommend compression. Your big toe may be
compressed in a bandage or taped.
– resting your toe above the level of your heart
can help circulate blood away from your toe.
Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
often are prescribed to relieve pain.
Turf toe is a difficult injury to
heal, and you may be at a high risk for suffering repeat
turf toe injuries. Be sure to give your toe ample rest
at home before engaging in activities. It is important
to let your big toe rest so your tendons and ligaments
can heal. For minor, grade I turf toe, two days to a
week of rest may be sufficient to ease your pain. For
moderate, grade II turf toe, you may need to rest your
big toe for one to two weeks. After resting a minor
turf toe injury, you can often return to activities
with the aid of sturdy shoe inserts that do not allow
your toe to bend upward. These inserts are stiff plates
that conform to the shape of your foot so that when
you step, your big toe does not bend where it meets
your foot and therefore reduces strain. Shoe inserts
may be made of steel, plastic, or custom-shaped thermoplastic.
The custom-shaped inserts usually provide the best protection
but you may need larger shoes so that they can fit inside.
Taping your big toe can also help you avoid straining
sore tendons and ligaments. Taping your own toe is often
difficult, and physicians generally recommend having
a qualified athletic trainer apply the tape for you.
A common method of taping your big toe is to place the
middle of a piece of athletic tape on the top of your
big toe. The tape wraps around your toe, crosses on
the bottom, and attaches to the ball of your foot. For
more severe, grade II turf toe that includes partially
torn tendons or ligaments, physicians typically recommend
taking about two weeks off from sports and activities
and undergoing similar treatment with ice, anti-inflammatories,
and a solid shoe insert. Try to walk on your injured
foot as little as possible -- on every step, your big
toe must bend upward and therefore strains the tendons
and ligaments. Keep your foot elevated and try to avoid
strenuous household chores. When you need to get around,
be sure to wear your solid shoe inserts.
Though recovering from turf toe often can be done without
formal physical therapy, you may want to visit a physical
therapist to receive heat treatments, such as whirlpool
baths. A therapist also can give you ultrasound therapy,
which sends energy waves through your toe to help ease
pain. In general, a cardiovascular training program
that progresses slowly will help strengthen your toe.
As your pain diminishes, walking becomes easier. Increase
your activity level slowly as you can tolerate the pain.
You should start jogging before you return to running.
Running should be pain-free before you return to cutting,
jumping, and sprinting. You may be able to return to
sports and activities within two to four weeks. If the
pain in your big toe flares up while training, you should
consult your physician. Turf toe is especially tough
for athletes during the middle of a season. Even after
treatment and rehabilitation, returning to competitive
sports after the injury often causes pain in your big
toe. Many athletes can manage the pain through the season
by wearing shoe inserts and taping their toes. At the
end of the season, if you still have pain, your physician
may be able to recommend further treatment. Physicians
generally do not recommend corticosteroid injections.
Though these injections may ease pain, they may put
you at risk for further injury, such as a tendon tear.
Corticosteroids should not be used to mask pain so you
can return to sports before your toe has healed.
Turf toe can become a chronic condition.
People who suffer turf toe typically can return to action,
but there is no cure. You usually can calm down the
symptoms down and play sports relatively symptom-free
with proper protection. The longer you participate in
competitive sports and activities on hard surfaces,
the greater the chances are that you will reinjure your
big toe. The most important preventive measure is to
wear a stiff-soled shoe. In athletics, cleats seem to
work better because they usually have a built-in plastic
sole that is more rigid than a tennis shoe. Your physician
may recommend avoiding activities on hard surfaces like
artificial turf. Sports like soccer or baseball that
are played on grass can be easier on your toes. Wear
the stiff shoe inserts prescribed by your physician
in all your shoes, whether you are going for a short
walk or playing a soccer game. Once you have suffered
turf toe, it is a good idea to use the stiff shoe inserts
to limit bending of your big toe. Your major concern
is to avoid arthritic deterioration of the cartilage
where your big toe meets your foot. Continue to visit
your physician if symptoms flare up. With proper medical
care, most people can prevent reinjury and continue
playing comfortably, at close to 100 percent, even though
they have may an arthritic toe.