Basketball Toe Injuries

This is part four of our four part series on common basketball injuries.  Today, we are talking toes.

I think that injuries to toes just sound awful.  I mean, it sends a shiver through me when I think of stubbing my toe so really having an injured toe seems like it would be uncomfortable.  There are two main types of toe injuries that we will discuss.
Turf Toe
Turf toe is an injury that is caused when the big toe joint is bent backward.  This can happen when the toe is jammed when making quick movements on the court or when landing from a jump.
Turf toe is the 3rd most reported reason for college athletes to miss playing time.
Pain in the joint of the big toe is the first indicator of the problem.  The toe can be swollen also.  Turf toe can start slowly –caused by repeated injuries or it can start suddenly if there is a direct injury to the toe.
The cure – as much as there is a cure, it is resting your foot.  I know, no one likes that answer.  In this case, it is important to follow that direction.  This is another instance where going back too fast will cause re-injury and will shorten your playing time.   The rest period should be two to three weeks for a minor injury and up to six weeks for a more serious injury.  If you don’t rest, you will not only be back on the sidelines soon but you can cause damage that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You know that I love telling you to go to your friendly podiatrist to be diagnosed but unless it is really painful or really swollen, you can stay home and keep your foot up.  It is rare (but not impossible) that rest is not the cure.  In that case, a trip to the doctor is in order.  Also it is time to employ my favorite acronym – RICE.  I don’t know how you could forget it at this point but Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
How can you avoid turf toe?  One way is to make sure your shoes are fitted to your feet and sport.  In basketball, you should be wearing court shoes that will have a harder surface that hits the floor and provides some support for your toe.  You can also try to support your toe by taping it to the toe next to it.  The toes then support each other.
Subungual Hematoma
I sometimes think that when you see the name of an injury that the more Latin it sounds the worse it is.  You know it is going to be something that you don’t want to have.    A subungual hematoma is blood under the toe nail.  See, it is something that you don’t want to have.
The bleeding under the toe nail is usually caused by either your toe being repeatedly jammed against the inside of your shoe or by having someone step (stomp?) on your foot.
While painful at first, the pain usually goes away in a day or two and you can go back to playing.  If the pain does not go away or the pain is not easily controlled at first with ice and ibuprophen, then you need to go to the doctor.  The doctor may need to look at your toe and perhaps drain some of the blood from under the nail.
The good news about this injury is that as soon as the pain stops, you can go back to your sport.  If the injury was caused by your shoes, you may want to check how well they fit you.  If it was caused by being stepped on, well , you can’t really do anything about that but I would avoid that person if possible.
So there you go.  We have given you some insight into the four major areas of basketball sports medicine.
Just as a note –
As it gets colder here in the Midwest, I think more and more about staying home where it is nice and warm.  Also, with the end of the year coming up, it is a great time to schedule appointments to fix bunions, hammers toes, and infected toe nails.  You can use the time off at the end of the year to recover and you will then be all set for next summer.  So, now that you have hit your deductible, it is time to get your tootsies all set.  Everyone can then rave about your beautiful feet.
Trivia Question of the week– How long does it take to grow a new toe nail?
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons– on Friday, November 30th.  While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning.

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