Turf Toe: A Common Pediatric Foot Problem

Spring sports are in full swing and that means we’re seeing an increase in an injury known as Turf Toe. Turf Toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe.

Causes: Turf Toe occurs when, in the action of pushing off with your foot, the big toe jams or stays flat on the ground, resulting in a sudden injury. This commonly occurs when playing on artificial turf and hence the name, “Turf Toe.” That’s why this injury often happens to football players and other athletes who play on turf fields, such as soccer players. It can also come on more gradually as the result of repetitive hyperextension of the big toe and so we also see it in children who participate in basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, and dance.

Symptoms: A child with Turf Toe will experience pain and swelling around the base of the big toe. If it’s the result of a sudden injury, your child may have felt a “pop” when the injury occurred and the pain will increase dramatically within 24 hours. If Turf Toe is the result of an ongoing, repetitive motion, the pain may come on gradually but will continue to worsen to the point where it’s very uncomfortable. The big toe will become stiff and mobility of the joint will be very limited.

Diagnosis: At Great Neck Family Foot Care, Dr. Alec Hochstein or Dr. Diana Gagliano will first determine if your child has Turf Toe by taking a full medical history and examining the foot. X-rays will be taken to rule out a toe fracture and other imaging diagnostics may also be ordered to make sure other conditions are not present.

Treatment: Initial treatment of Turf Toe is usually following the RICE regimen: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can be taken to relieve pain. Healing takes time and your child will most likely not be able to return to his or her sport for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Taping the big toe to the next toe or using a crutch or boot to rest the toe may be recommended. Surgery is reserved for severe or prolonged cases.

If you suspect your child may be suffering from Turf Toe, call our Great Neck office today at 516-482-5999 and schedule an appointment with one of our board certified podiatrists.