Turf Toe

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    The condition when the joint of the first toe can hardly move is called turf toe. The disease often affects men. The reasons that lead to the turf toe are inflammation of a bacterial or rheumatoid nature, metabolic disorders (gout), the consequences of trauma or surgery on the joint.  The malfunction progresses the following way: the cartilage becomes thinner, the joint space narrows, the articular surfaces are deformed, growths appear on the periphery of the joint like thorns and rollers, the capsule is scarred. 

    Symptoms and Causes of a Turf Toe

    The combination of the following manifestations may indicate the turf toe:

    • Aching in the joint when walking
    • Soreness
    • A swollen and reddened joint of the big toe
    • Used shoes become cramped
    • Worsening symptoms in cold weather

    Why some people suffer from the turf toe, while others do not, is not exactly known. Possible causes of the turf toe are hereditary factors, trauma, inflammation, excessive stress and deformities. Sometimes, stiffness is a complication of gout.

    The following factors may contribute to the onset and progression of the turf toe:

    • Unsuitable, tight shoes
    • Deformity of the foot
    • Flat-valgus foot
    • Improper or excessive stress, such as gait disturbance or being overweight
    • Bone fractures and soft tissue inflammation.
    • Gout


    Treatment starts with a correct diagnosis. To make a diagnosis, the doctor asks the patient about the medical history and complaints. He also performs examination, palpation and X-ray of the turf toe.

    The goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the disease, reduce the severity of symptoms, and relieve pain. 

    How is Turf Toe Treated?

    Conservative treatment methods are ineffective and do not lead to permanent remission. For most patients, surgical intervention is indicated, which is carried out strictly individually after a thorough diagnosis of the problem and in accordance with the stage of the disease. It is worth noting that the conservative techniques are efficient only in the case of mild pain, or when moderate limitation of movements does not bother a patient.

    At the initial and middle stages of turf toe, the main type of surgical treatment is joint-saving surgery – removal of bone growths without or in combination with chondroplasty (cartilage restoration).

    In the later stages of the disease, arthrodesis is performed (closure of the joint in a functionally advantageous position.

    In the later stages of turf toe, arthroplasty of the first metatarsophalangeal joint is performed.

    Recovery Process

    Typically, the healing process takes 3 to 6 weeks. The stronger the deformity, the longer the rehabilitation treatment will take. To obtain accurate information about the condition of the operated area, which is necessary for the postoperative examination, an X-ray should be taken approximately 4 weeks later.

    In order to prevent loss of muscle tone during this period, the patient can be prescribed physiotherapy which includes ultrasound, massage and laser. After removing the plaster cast, special exercises are strongly recommended.

    Written by Touch of Health Posted on June 28, 2021

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