A big toe seems like a little thing, but a sprain to the ligaments that connect the big toe the foot is a big deal for an athlete. Turf toe happens when the big toe gets bent too far up or down. This often occurs when an athlete jams his toe or repeatedly pushes off a hard surface. When football fields starting using artificial turf, the rate of injury to the joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsal-phalangeal or MTP joint, to be exact) increased and gave the injury its name.
The initial treatment for turf toe is the RICE treatment used for other sprains; Rest, Ice, Compression and elevation. Treatment may include a walking boot or crutches to keep strain off the joint. Physical therapy is vital to keep the joint from becoming permanently stiff.
Even minor turf toe can keep an athlete on the bench. Using special shoe inserts made of rigid plastic or metal to reduce flexion, some athletes with minor turf toe return to action in just a few days. More severe sprains can take as long as twelve weeks to heal.