What Time Does San Diego State Football Play Today San Diego Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson Slowed by Turf Toe

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San Diego Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson Slowed by Turf Toe

San Diego Chargers star running back LaDainian Tomlinson has been hampered all season by an early finger injury. This injury can be devastating and has ended many NFL careers. What exactly is grass finger? How can we avoid this toe pain?

What is grass finger?

Turf toe is a pain condition at the base of the big toe. This is usually caused by either a traumatic stubbing of the toe, or repeated pushing off while running or jumping. The most common complaints are pain, stiffness and swelling. The pain can be so severe that pushing off in football is practically impossible.

This injury is especially common among athletes who play on artificial turf, hence the name. The hard surface combined with the running, jumping and cutting in soccer and football make grass toes a common injury. Some also blame the choice of athletic shoes. More flexible shoes, especially those used in competition, provide less support to the forefoot joints, which can contribute to the incidence of bunions.

How does grass finger come about?

When a player suffers a toe injury like this, they actually tear the capsule that surrounds the joint at the base of the toe. Tearing of this joint capsule can be extremely painful. Moreover, tearing of the joint capsule can lead to significant instability and even dislocation of the joint at the base of the toe. This can lead to accelerated cartilage wear and arthritis of the big toe known as Hallux limitis or rigidus. This worn-out arthritis can prematurely end a promising career.

How is turf toe diagnosed?

The diagnosis is primarily based on the physical examination of the patient. X-rays may be taken to ensure there are no fractures or evidence of arthritis. Occasionally, an MRI is needed to evaluate the surrounding tendons or to rule out an occult stress fracture.

What is the treatment of grass finger?

Treatment of finger injuries usually consists of trying to control inflammation of the joint capsule.

A treatment protocol may include:

1. Rest

2. Ice

3. Elevation

4. Taping or padding to reduce the weight of the finger joint

5. Anti-inflammatory

6. Even in chronic cases, steroid injections into the joint can be helpful

7. Long-term use of a functional foot orthosis to balance the forefoot into cleats is very helpful.

Athletes diagnosed with bunion should avoid stress on the joint for three to four weeks to allow the joint capsule to heal. When you return to activities, functional orthotics can be used to limit motion of the big toe and prevent further damage to the joint capsule.

Will grass fingers make a comeback?

Unfortunately, bunion can come back, often worse than the initial injury, and rehabilitation can be very slow. LaDainian Tomlinson has been slowed by an injury all season and most likely won’t be 100% until he rests at the end of the season. Most athletes have problems when they try to return to sports too soon after sustaining a finger injury. Surgery is rarely needed to treat bunion, unless it is a chronic injury and there are spurs in the joint that limit movement. If a bone spur has formed that severely limits the movement of the toe joint, surgery to remove the spur may be helpful.

Prevention and early treatment really is the key! If you experience joint pain after running in exercise, your shoes should be evaluated for a functional orthotic to balance your biomechanics and hopefully avoid significant toe bunion.

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