(Metatarsalphalangeal Joint Sprain; Sprain Big Toe)
by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Turf toe is a sprain of the base of the big toe where the big toe meets the foot. It is usually a hyperextension sprain of the first joint of the toe. A sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support a toe. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. The injury is called turf toe because it often occurs in football and soccer players when playing on artificial turf.
Turf toe occurs when the big toe is forced to extend beyond its normal range of motion. This can be caused by:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase your chances of getting turf toe include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you injured your toe. An exam of your toe will be done to assess the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Your doctor may need pictures of your foot. This can be done with:
The following drugs may help reduce inflammation and pain:
Surgery is only needed to repair turf toe if:
Often, turf toe cannot be prevented. However, to reduce your risk of getting turf toe, wear stiff-soled athletic shoes when playing sports.
Proper treatment of turf toe can help prevent long-term complications or problems with the toe joint such as misalignment and immobility.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
British Columbia Podiatric Medical Association
Achilles Foot Health Centre
Chou LB. Disorders of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Phys Sportsmed . 2000;28:32-45.
Churchill SR, Donley BG. Managing injuries of the great toe. Phys Sportsmed ; 1998.
Foot sprain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated November 3, 2012. Accessed May 1, 2013.
Mullen JE, O'Malley MJ. Sprains—residual instability of subtalar, Lisfranc joints, and turf toe. Clinics in Sports Medicine . 2004;23(1):97-121.
Pommering TL. Ankle and foot injuries in pediatric and adult athletes. Prim Care . 2005;32(1):133-161.
Renstrom P. Sports Injuries: Basic Principles of Prevention and Care . Boston, MA: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1993.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 2/19/2014