Turf Toe


  • A Turf toe is an injury to the great toe joint. It occurs when the hallux is excessively dorsiflexed such as may occur when an athlete cuts hard on artificial turf.
  • The joint capsule is injured or in some instances completely torn.
  • This leads to pain and swelling in the toe.

Diagnostic tips

  1. Pain at the base of the great toe after an acute injury.
  2. Commonly seen in contact sports such as football, soccer, and rugby as well as gymnastics and dance.
  3. Noticeable swelling of the great toe.
  4. Limping.
  5. Inability to run on the foot.

Tests and Imaging

  1. Plain x-rays should be reviewed to rule out other injuries involving great toe (x-rays in turf toe injuries are usually negative).
  2. A stress x-ray or fluoroscopy may demonstrate excessive movement (instability) of the great toe joint when the great toe joint is stressed.
  3. An MRI will reveal evidence of the soft-tissue (capsular) injury.

Immediate Treatment

  1. Advise ice application and elevation to help decrease the swelling and allow for healing.
  2. Advise rest and activity modification.
  3. Analgesia

Possible Referral

  1. Podiatry for cam walker or strapping/splinting to limit joint motion and stabilise injury.
  2. Foot and ankle surgeon for surgical approach if turf toe injures do not adequately recover.