The quarterback for the Notre Dame football team, Jimmy Clausen, recently underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments under his big toe joint. Twisting and flexing the joint caused a "pop" that was felt in a game early in the season. He continued to play with the injury which never fully healed.
"Turf toe" is a condition in which the big toe bends upwards to an abnormal degree, causing pain at the bottom of the big toe, damage to the ligaments that connect the foot to the big toe, and damage to the joint capsule. Usually, the front of the foot is flat on the ground and slightly flexed upwards, with the heel raised off the ground. With the heel in this position, an outside force, which is usually another player, forces the joint of the first toe upwards even more.
Initial treatment includes rest, ice and elevation. A stiff soled shoe can help decrease movement of the big toe joint while walking. Crutches and/or a walking boot may be necessary in a severe injury. If discomfort continues a custom orthotic device can be made to decrease strain to the bottom of the joint.
Jimmy Clausen underwent surgery only after an MRI revealed that he had completely torn ligaments under the big toe joint. This severe of an injury rarely occurs and most athletes can return to the field within several weeks of a "Turf Toe" injury.