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What is turf toe?

Dr. Christopher P. Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

A foot sprain involves tearing a ligament, a fibrous structure that connects one bone to another. One common type of foot sprain is a midfoot sprain. Another common sprain affects the big toe. It usually occurs at the metatarsophalangeal joint, and it's also known as "turf toe" because it often affects football players who compete on unforgiving artificial turf. However, anyone can experience turf toe, which occurs when the big toe is bent too far back toward the ankle. Whatever the cause, a sprain around this joint will cause pain, swelling, tenderness and possibly bruising.

Turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe joint. It is the result of hyper-extension of the big toe. Turf toe is the result of a specific event or repeated motion of the big toe. It can occur over time by pushing off of your big toe or one forceful push-off. The typical treatment for this injury is rest. The big toe may need to be immobilized using a boot or tape, depending on the severity of the sprain.

This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.