This year’s Superbowl showed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prevail over the Kansas City Chiefs. Could the outcome have been different if Patrick Mahomes did not have turf toe? Would he have been able to scramble with more gained yards without the nagging injury?
Turf toe is an injury to the ligaments at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint. Ligaments connect the bones together. There are varying degrees of injuries with turf toe. It occurs when the big toe moves upwards excessively. American football players see the highest chance of this injury due to the artificial turf that they play on. Unlike grass, artificial turf is a firm surface and does not provide the same amount of “cushion”. A grading system is used to distinguish the degree of a turf toe injury:
Grade 1 – The plantar (underside of the big toe) complex has been stretched causing pin-point tenderness and slight swelling.
Grade 2 – A partial tearing of the plantar (underside of the big toe) complex causes more widespread tenderness, moderate swelling, and bruising. Movement of the toe is limited and painful.
Grade 3 – The plantar (underside of the big toe) complex is completely torn causing severe tenderness, severe swelling, and bruising. It is difficult and painful to move the big toe.
First line treatment consists of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. In addition, anti-inflammatories can also be helpful to decrease pain and swelling. Advanced imaging is often helpful in determining the integrity of the soft tissue that surrounds the joint. Not every case will require surgery. For Patrick Mahomes, a surgery likely indicates a more severe case that if left untreated could lead to deterioration of the joint structure. Should he have played in the Superbowl? Well, certainly he must have injured it more with all the scrambling he had to do to evade the Bucs!
We here at Brucato Foot and Ankle wish Patrick Mahomes a speedy recovery from this injury and surgical treatment!