As I watched my daughter in soccer last night, I was thinking about several soccer playing patients I have that have sustained injuries. These injuries happen on a regular basis, and can interfere with continued soccer play. But some injuries are less problematic and can allow continued play if treated properly. One such soccer injury occurs in the great toe or big toe area. Let me explain this entity:
One of the most common injuries to the great toe in soccer is Turf Toe. This is a condition best described as a sprain of the joint just below the great toe (metatarsal-phalangeal joint) and includes tearing of the ligaments around the joint. This can occur from forcing the toe up or catching the toe and forcing it down. In either case, this injury is easily done (even on grass) while playing soccer. It will often feel like a broken toe, but has negative x-rays.
Usually this entity is treated conservatively by splinting or taping. The taping is often the best treatment, as it can be easily done before a game and allow continued play. The process of taping is designed to limit the motion of the great toe joint (either up or down) to allow time for the joint to heal. This taping will often be required for 4-6 weeks while the joint heals.
Acutely, however, you can ice the area for swelling purposes, wear a comfortable shoe and use anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. Remember, this is actually a sprain and should be treated as such.
The good news about this problem is surgery is rarely required, taping will usually resolve the symptoms and allow continued play and with proper healing the problem doesn't necessarily recur without a new injury.