A sprained toe is one the most common sports injuries and is regularly seen worldwide as a result of stubbed toes, landing awkwardly or stopping suddenly. These motions as well as others tend to put an enormous amount of stress on the toe, so much so that that one of the toes can’t handle the pressure and some of the ligament tissue tears from the strain.
Since the motions that lead to a sprained toe seem to occur most often in athletic activities, anyone who regularly engages in sports that involve a fair amount of movement have an increased risk of spraining their toe. Rugby, basketball, lacrosse and soccer players all run a high risk of a toe injury but so do people who run regularly or are involved in track events. Dancers also have an increased chance of developing sprained toe symptoms due to the stress of their bodyweight that is placed on the toe joints.
When the sprain actually occurs it can be registered on a three grade system for the severity of the injury with grade 1 being the least serious and grade 3 being the most serious. The level of trauma is mostly related to the amount of ligaments or ligament tissue damaged in the toe.
Grade 1 Sprained Toe: Small microtears in some of the ligament tissue. The toe may swell and hurt to put pressure on but will likely recover within a week.
Grade 2 Sprained Toe: The ligament tissue in the toe joint will be partially torn resulting in swelling and some instability. The toe joint will hurt to move around and range of motion may be limited
Grade 3 Sprained Toe: The toe joint may contain extreme or complete tearing of the toe ligament tissue with severe pain if any pressure is placed on the foot. There may be bruising and swelling as well as instability in the joint.
There are also three grades of turf toe which is a more extreme sprain that athletes also often must deal with. Turf toe symptoms appear for the same reason the sprained toe symptoms do, extreme pressure on the toes resulting in a ligament tear. The difference is that turf toe is the result of the big toe being bent upward significantly beyond it’s usual capacity. This hyper-extension of the toe causes a ligament tear at the bottom or toe plantar surface. Turf toe is also known as an MTP sprain (MTP standing for metatarsaphalangeal).
No matter if the toe sprain is displaying turf toe symptoms or the normal sprained toe symptoms you need to stop whatever activity you’re engaged in and start sprained toe treatment. Athletes and those who are regularly involved in vigorous activity should be particularly on guard when it comes to toe sprains to not worsen the injury even more by placing weight on it after the trauma especially due to the fact that toe sprains are almost impossible to guard against or prevent. Treatment for turf toe and sprained toes can be rapid as long provided you treat your feet with respect and minimize any weight-bearing activities.