TURF TOE: SMALL BODY PART-BIG INJURY

Written by admin on October 16, 2012 – 12:59 pm -

Beanie Wells' big toe injury

Arizona Cardinals football fans are perplexed. Why has something as seemingly insignificant as a toe injury sidelined their starting running back, Beanie Wells. Despite their small stature, toe injuries can be very painful and become chronic problems. One of the most common, particularly in football players is turf toe. So named, as in 85% of cases, the athletes play on artificial surfaces, which are typically harder and have less give.
Turf toe is a painful condition usually of the great toe. It occurs when the toe is bent backwards beyond its normal limits—called hyperextension. This forced movement stretches the tissues, particularly the ligaments, at the bottom of the toe. It can occur either from a single trauma or over time with repetitive overuse. .
The most common symptom is pain, particularly at the bottom of the joint, which is exacerbated with movement. In traumatic cases, the pain begins immediately, while with overuse, the pain gradually increases over time. Pain occurs in the “push-off” phase of running or walking, and it is particularly debilitating during acceleration, lateral movement, or jumping. Other symptoms may include swelling, redness, bruising, and decreased range of motion of the toe.
In less severe cases, athletes may continue to play using supportive taping or a stiff-soled shoe that will help prevent the excessive hyperextension of the great toe. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications may help control the pain. Unfortunately, the best treatment for turf toe is complete rest. In severe cases, the use of crutches and complete avoidance of weight bearing may be required. It is imperative that the condition be addressed early to avoid a chronic condition which will have adverse effects on performance.
As in the case of Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, this condition may take several weeks, or even months, to fully resolve. While traumatic injuries are difficult to prevent, overuse injuries can be averted by choosing footwear that provides the proper support at the toes. This includes a rigid soled shoe or special orthotic that prevents excessive motion.
For answers on turf toe injuries, visit www.orthonc.com
Matt Rongstad is an ATC/LAT currently training in the GOSM Fellowship.
Dr. Galland is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in sports medicine practicing in Raleigh, NC. He serves as the team physician and orthopaedic consultant to the Carolina Mudcats, Cleveland Indians Single-A affiliate as well as many other local high schools and colleges. twitter@drmarkgalland.com.

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