Podiatrist in San Leandro, CA
Foot Doctor of the East Bay
1300 Bancroft Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 483-3390
(510) 394-6402 fax
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When we hear the word “sprain,” we usually think of ankles, or maybe wrists. It’s understandable—those are by far the most vulnerable spots for such an injury due to the hard work they do.

However, sprains actually can occur in any joint in your body, not just ankles and wrists. A sprain occurs whenever a joint is suddenly pushed beyond the normal limit of its range, causing the ligaments that surround and support the bones to stretch, tear, or even rupture. When this happens to your big toe, the resulting injury is called turf toe.

Common Causes and Symptoms

Turf toe is especially common among athletes, particularly those who play sports with lots of running, jumping, or sudden shifts of weight. Repeatedly hyper-extending the joint from pushing off with toes, or a sudden forceful trauma, can result in a sprain in your largest toe. Because artificial turf is harder than grass and is more likely to cause cleats to stick, your risk is greater on unnatural surfaces—hence the name turf toe. Bad shoes or cleats that don’t properly support your feet also make you more susceptible—inserts or orthotics from Foot Doctor of the East Bay can help here.

Just like any other sprain, this type usually results in pain, swelling, bruising, and decreased range of motion in the affected joint. If the problem was caused by overuse, you may notice symptoms starting slowly and building over time; if caused by a sudden trauma the pain is usually sharp and immediate and you may feel a pop.

Treating the Pain and Getting Back on the Field

For basic, immediate post-injury care, follow the R.I.C.E. protocol. Get off your feet to rest the injury. Apply ice to reduce swelling and pain. Compress the area using a bandage to protect and stabilize. Finally, as often as possible, elevate the injury above heart level—prop it up while sitting or sleeping.

When you come into our office for a visit, we’ll ask you about your injury and possibly take an X-ray to rule out any other problems, such as a fracture. If the sprain isn’t that bad, rest may be the only treatment you need. For more significant injuries, however, we may tape the toe to its neighbor in order to stabilize it, or if necessary immobilize the entire foot using a cast or special walking boot until it’s safe to put weight on the area again. Surgery is only necessary in the most extreme cases.

Typically, recovery lasts around 2 or 3 weeks. Once you’re back on your feet, gradually work some toe stretches and exercises into your regular routine to regain strength and flexibility. Some people may require more focused physical therapy to get full range of motion back.

We Can Help

If you’re experiencing persistent pain or having trouble walking and you think it might be turf toe, call Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad, DPM of Foot Doctor of the East Bay today. Our expert staff is focused on thorough treatment and will help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your pain, and what it will take to fix it. Give us a call at (510) 483-3390 to set up an appointment at our San Leandro, Pleasanton, or Los Gatos, CA office—just a stone’s throw away from the San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose urban cores.  Also remember to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!

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