Etiology and Biomechanics of First Metatarsophalangeal Joint Sprains (turf toe) in Athletes

Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22911, USA.
Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering 01/2012; 40(1):43-61. DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.v40.i1.30
Source: PubMed


Sprains of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, referred to colloquially as "turf toe," are a debilitating sports injury because the hallux is pivotal to an athletes' ability to accelerate and cut. Severe sprains may require weeks to full recovery, and injuries requiring surgery may prevent an athlete from full athletic participation for months. Whereas the diagnosis and treatment of turf toe are well documented in the literature, less is known about the biomechanics of this joint and the mechanical properties of the structures that compose it. Nevertheless, this information is vital to those, such as equipment designers, who attempt to develop athletic footwear and surfaces intended to reduce the likelihood of injury. To that end, this review summarizes the literature on the anatomy of the first MTP joint, on biomechanical studies of the first MTP joint, and on the incidence, mechanisms, and treatment of turf toe. Furthermore, gaps in the literature are identified and opportunities for future research are discussed. Only through a thorough synthesis of the anatomic, biomechanical, and clinical knowledge regarding first MTP joint sprains can appropriate countermeasures be designed to reduce the prevalence and severity of these injuries.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Sprains of the first metatarsophalangeal (1MTP) joint, also known as turf toe, are debilitating athletic injuries. Because 85% of 1MTP sprains result from excessive hallux dorsiflexion, interventions that limit motion to subinjurious levels would greatly benefit athletes. Hallux dorsiflexion range of motion (hdROM) cannot be overly constrained, however, lest athletic performance be compromised. Therefore, the tolerance of the 1MTP joint to excessive dorsiflexion injury must be quantified before appropriate hdROM limitations may be developed. The purpose of this study was to develop a quantitative injury risk function for 1MTP sprains on the basis of hallux dorsiflexion angle. Methods: Twenty cadaveric limbs were tested to both subinjurious and injurious levels of hallux dorsiflexion. Motion capture techniques were used to track six-degree-of-freedom motion of the first proximal phalanx, first metatarsal, and calcaneus. Specimens were examined by physicians posttest to diagnose injury occurrence and ensure clinical relevance of the injuries. Results: A two-parameter Weibull hazard function analysis reveals that a 50% risk of injury occurs at 78° of dorsiflexion from anatomical zero. Conclusion: Methods presented here drove cadaveric 1MTP joints to various degrees of dorsiflexion, resulting in both noninjurious and injurious trials, which were formed into an injury risk function.
    Medicine and science in sports and exercise 05/2013; 45(11). DOI:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182994a10 · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Turf toe is the general term for a sprain of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint complex. Previously attributed to shoe design and artificial turf, the incidence of turf toe injury has been thought to decline with the advent of newer turf designs. However, the current incidence and epidemiology remain unknown as the majority of the literature consists of small series and addresses diagnosis and treatment rather than epidemiology and prevention. We examined data from the NCAA's Injury Surveillance System (ISS) for 5 football seasons (2004-2005 through 2008-2009), including all preseason, regular season, and postseason practice and competition data. The incidence, epidemiology, and risk factors for turf toe injury, defined as injury to the connective tissue of the first MTP joint, plantar plate complex, and/or sesamoid fracture, were determined. The overall incidence of turf toe injuries in NCAA football players was 0.062 per 1000 athlete-exposures (A-Es; 95% CI 0.052, 0.072). Athletes were nearly 14 times more likely to sustain the injury during games compared to practice, with a mean days lost due to injury of 10.1 (7.9, 12.4). Fewer than 2% of turf toe injuries required operative intervention. There was a significantly higher injury rate on third-generation artificial surfaces compared to natural grass (0.087 per 1000 A-E [0.067, 0.11] vs 0.047 per 1000 A-E [0.036, 0.059]). The majority of injuries occurred as a result of contact with the playing surface (35.4%) or contact with another player (32.7%), and running backs and quarterbacks were the most common positions to suffer turf toe injury. Our data suggest a significantly higher incidence of turf toe injuries during games, a greater susceptibility among running backs and quarterbacks, and a significant contribution of playing surface to risk of injury. Though turf toe injuries may be less common that previously reported in elite football players, these injuries warrant appropriate acute and long-term management to prevent long-term dysfunction. Level IV, case series.
    12/2013; 35(2). DOI:10.1177/1071100713514038
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    ABSTRACT: Although metatarsophalangeal (MTP) plantar plate tears are common, they are still often missed. The purpose of this study is to find the best clinical variables to define and grade the plantar plate injuries. Sixty-eight patients (100 MTP joints) were graded arthroscopically and divided into five groups (0 to IV) according to the anatomical classification. Their medical records were reviewed to establish correlations of clinical findings with the anatomical lesions. The positive correlations found were acute pain, widening of the interdigital space, loss of ground touch, positivity of the MTP joint drawer test, reduction of the toe purchase, and toe supination. The drawer test is the most reliable and accurate tool to classify and grade the plantar plate lesion, followed by ground touch and rotational deformities. It is possible to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of plantar plate tears by means of the combination of both clinical history and physical examination data.
    Journal of surgical orthopaedic advances 01/2014; 23(4):214-23.
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