Tuesday, 14 November 2023 00:00

What Is Turf Toe?

Turf toe is an injury to the big toe's ligaments, commonly afflicting athletes like those who play football or soccer as they often play on artificial surfaces. It arises when there is excessive force exerted on the toe's metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, joints, through actions such as sprinting or jumping. This injury can also happen to dancers and gymnasts, given their frequent hard surface toe flexes. Turf toe can result from overextending the big toe upwards, which can happen due to various activities that stress the toe, such as certain sports movements, wearing heels, or improper walking. The risk may increase by choosing to wear footwear that is too tight.  The toe's joint and the sesamoid bones within the tendons bear the body's weight and aid movement. If these are forced backward beyond their limit, or if the toe stays flat instead of lifting during motion, the ligaments can strain or tear. Turf toe may occur in an instant from a sharp movement, or it may happen gradually from repetitive strain. This is generally a minor ailment, sidestepping the need for surgery. Symptoms range from pain and swelling to a snapping sensation during the incident. Initial mild symptoms can worsen with continuous stress, potentially leading to severe and immediate manifestations upon injury. If you suffer from toe pain, it is suggested that you make an appointment with a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact one of our podiatrists of Tri-Town Podiatry. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Arlington, Canton, and Chelsea, MA . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

Read more about Toe Pain

Connect With Us