Turf Toe Injuries in Athletes and Therapeutic Ultrasound

Turf Toe Injuries in Athletes and Therapeutic Ultrasound

“Turf toe” is a common term used to define the sprain in the ligaments enclosing the big toe.  Although it’s associated with soccer players who play in artificial turf, it is also common with athletes in sports such as football and rugby.  It’s the condition which is caused by getting the big toe jammed against the floor and hyperextended forcefully in an upward direction.

The most common symptom of turf toe is pain when moving the big toe up and down as well as inflammation.  If the injury is severe, as seen in professional sports where forceful contact is common, the ligaments of the big toe can be damaged.  As with any tendinous sprain, there are 3 grades of severity.

  • Grade 1 sprain is seen with mild pain but usually does not limit the range of motion in the big toe.
  • Grade 2 sprain is a bit more serious and may include tearing of some but not all collagen fibers in the ligaments.  This usually forces an athlete to use a splint to prevent movement and allow time for healing.
  • Grade 3 sprain shows significant swelling and tenderness and it puts an athlete out of the game because it involves complete rupture of the ligaments and may require surgical reconstruction.

With Grades 1 and 2 sprains are treated in a conservative approach.  Walking may be difficult for the athlete initially because of the pain and swelling, but this usually lasts less than 2 week when using the R.I.C.E. guidelines (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

Contrary to muscular injuries (strains), ligamentous injuries (sprains) have very poor blood supply (which is why they appear white) and take a longer time to heal and/or may not heal completely.  This can lead to chronic injuries if not treated appropriately.  The use of therapeutic ultrasound therapy has been found to be extremely beneficial for treating this condition because of the benefits it provides in increasing circulation to the ligaments, reducing the swelling, and speeding the healing process.   This can help you recover faster, prevent future injuries, and keep athletes in the game.