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Zion Williamson out with a right toe sprain

First round draft choice Zion Williamson, who plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, was recently sidelined with an injury described asbasketball injuries a toe sprain.  Although the 19 year old starter described the injury as “no big deal”,  it did side line him with a questionable start against the Chicago Bulls.

What is turf toe?

How would a medical professional describe a toe sprain?  Most podiatrists would describe a toe sprain as a condition called turf toe.  Turf toe is a hyper-extension injury that results in temporary or permanent damage to the ligaments surrounding the great toe.  The majority of turf toe injuries involve the bottom or plantar surface of the joint.  Forced extension (toe moving towards the shin) results in a partial to complete tear of one or more of the soft tissue structures holding the great toe joint together.  Return to play depends upon the severity of the injury.

How is turf toe treated?

turf toe plateThe vast majority of cases of turf toe require rest with no surgery.  Bracing and splinting of the great toe joint with a Turf Toe Plate

can act to limit the range of motion of the joint.  Turf Toe Plates are commonly used in both the healing phase of the injury and return to play, allowing earlier return to most activities.

How would a Turf Toe Plate affect my game?

Athletes describe an initial awareness of the Turf Toe Plate but most describe a willingness if not a desire to continue use of the Turf Toe Plate as they assume their full roles on the court.  The Turf Toe Plate will work to prevent re-injury.  The extension under the great toe, called a Morton’s extension, may actually work to improve an athlete’s game by lengthening the lever arm of the foot.  Continued use of the Turf Toe Plate upon resolution of the injury is up to the athlete and his/her trainer.

Is there a Turf toe Plate in Zion Williamson’s future?  This promising star has a lot to look forward to, and hopefully a long career free of additional injuries.  Join the discussion regarding turf toe injuries.


Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Advisor

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