Injury Report: Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans
The injury can be diagnosed by an X-ray, by flexibility tests, and by
questioning the patient. The X-rays can show bone spurs, or irregularities in
the joint. Examining the joint will also show inflammation and stiffness.
The toe is most often treated without surgery. In this case, the toe would
be iced and elevated, and the patient would be prescribed an anti-inflammatory
medication. The most important treatment is rest. McNair has worn a protective
boot during practices throughout the later part of the season. The boot helps
to immobilize his foot to keep down pain and swelling. If the athlete develops
bone spurs around the joint, like McNair has, surgery is eventually necessary.
The bone spurs are removed, and the area is cleaned out. After the surgery, the
foot is immobilized in a cast.
Turf toe can be prevented by not playing on artificial turf or, more
practically, by wearing stiff-soled shoes. This will limit the bending and
jamming of the big toe. With stiffer soles, the toe will not bend back as
easily. Cleated shoes tend to have stiffer soles that are usually made of
The recovery period differs from patient to patient. If an athlete considers
it only a nagging pain, he may play through it each week. Otherwise, he may
miss a game or two, resting the toe and recovering. When players have surgery,
recovery time is obviously increased.
After the initial injury, there is an increased risk of an athlete
reinjuring the toe. The toe may also become arthritic, and the athlete may have
trouble with arthritis or stiff toes after his career. For the rest of his
career, he will play with a special shoe, made to protect his forefoot; the
shoe will decrease the odds of reinjuring the toe.
Medical information was provided by Michael J. Ciccotti, MD, director of
sports medicine at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University
Hospital in Philadelphia. Ciccotti is also the team physician for the