What is turf toe?

October, 9, 2009
10/09/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker


Pittsburgh Steelers tailback Willie Parker is expected to miss his second straight game Sunday because of turf toe.
 Parker


The AFC North blog checked in with ESPN medical expert Stephania Bell for a description of the injury to get an idea of what Parker is going through.
Bell: "Turf toe usually results from hyperextension of the big toe and is an injury to the tissue surrounding the joint where the base of the big toe meets the ball of the foot. Ligaments around the joint can become overstretched or torn and that is what causes the pain and swelling. The more damage to the ligaments and joint capsule, the more severe the injury. It can be excruciatingly painful. Players often describe it like driving a nail through the toe when they try to push off and that is the problem. You need to extend your big toe in order to push off your foot properly when running, meaning all of your body weight is over that joint just before the foot leaves the ground. For a running back who has to cut, the toe has to pivot, adding stress to the joint. It's important to try to get it under control because chronic turf toe can become very disabling and in some cases has prematurely ended an athlete's career."

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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