Do Professional Football Players Get Paid When On Injured Reserve San Diego Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson Slowed by Turf Toe

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San Diego Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson Slowed by Turf Toe

San Diego Chargers star running back LaDainian Tomlinson has been hampered all season by an early turf toe injury. This injury can be devastating and has ended many NFL careers. What is Turf Toe? How can we prevent foot pain?

What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe is a painful condition in the big toe. This is usually caused by either jamming the toe with trauma or repeated pushing while running or jumping. The most common complaints are pain, stiffness and swelling. The pain can be so severe that it is virtually impossible to push through the football.

This injury is particularly common among players who play on artificial turf, hence the name. Turf toes are frequently injured by hard surfaces, including running, jumping and cutting in football and soccer. Some also blame the choice of athletic footwear. More flexible shoes, especially those used in competition, provide less support to the forefoot joints, possibly contributing to the incidence of turf toe.

How does turf toe work?

When an athlete suffers this type of foot injury, they tear the capsule surrounding the big toe joint. Tearing of this joint capsule can be extremely painful. Furthermore, rupture of the joint capsule can also cause significant instability and dislocation of the ankle joint. This can lead to accelerated cartilage wear and arthritis of the big toe called hallux limitis or rigidus. These wear and tear arthritis can bring a promising career to a premature end.

How is turf toe diagnosed?

Diagnosis is mainly based on physical examination of the patient. X-rays may be taken to ensure there is no evidence of fractures or joint pain. Sometimes an MRI is needed to evaluate the surrounding tendons or to rule out an occult stress fracture.

What is the treatment for turf toe?

The treatment of foot injuries usually aims to control the inflammation of the joint capsule.

Treatment protocols may include:

1. Rest

2. Ice

3. Height

4. Taping or padding to reduce weight on the ankle joint

5. Anti-inflammatory

6. And in chronic cases steroid injections into the joint may be helpful

7. Prolonged use of functional foot orthotics is very helpful in balancing the forefoot in cleats.

Athletes diagnosed with turf toe should avoid joint stress for three to four weeks to allow the joint capsule to heal. Once activity is returned, functional orthotics can be used to limit motion of the big toe and prevent further damage to the joint capsule.

Will Turf Toe make a comeback?

Unfortunately, turf toe can return, often more severely than the initial injury, and rehabilitation can be very slow. LaDainian Tomlinson has been slowed all season by his injury and likely won’t be 100% until rested at the end of the season. Most athletes suffer when they try to return to sports soon after a turf toe injury. Treatment of turf toe rarely requires surgery unless it is a chronic injury and spurs are present in the joint limiting movement. If a bone spur has formed and severely limits the movement of the ankle joint, surgery to remove the spur may be helpful.

Prevention and early treatment really is the key! If you experience joint pain after running in practice, your shoes should be evaluated for a functional orthotic to balance your biomechanics and hopefully avoid significant turf toe.

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