Those of us who aren’t pro athletes just can’t appreciate how critical foot and ankle health is.
Sprained ankle? I’ll “walk it off”
Stubbed toe? I’ll wear looser shoes for a week
A little heel pain? It will pass….
You may think that professional athletic trainers are “babying” their players at times, but they know from experience that a seemingly innocuous, minor injury that’s left unattended, can develop into an injury which costs the team a championship, and end a player’s career.
For instance, Geoff Schwartz, starting left guard for the New York Giants, was carted off the playing field last Friday night during their preseason game with the Jets. Trainers believed the toe was dislocated, but had no idea as to its severity.
A dislocated toe is nothing to take lightly, because if serious enough, it can be a season-ending injury for an athlete. Fortunately for Schwartz, tests revealed that it’s only a minor dislocation which won’t require surgery. Geoff will be back on the field by the end of September if his rehab goes as planned.
“This is just a minor setback,” Schwartz said. “I plan on attacking the rehab program so I can get back on the field as soon as possible with my teammates and help us win games.”
How your toe becomes dislocated – and what to do about it
When the ligaments and tendons which hold the toe joint together are torn, the bones move apart and out of place. This is what’s called a dislocated toe. This can be a minor injury, as in Schwartz’s case, or quite severe, as when the toe is visibly out of joint. When the joint is properly realigned, it takes about 6 weeks for the ligaments to heal.
How can you tell the difference between simply stubbing your toe, spraining it, breaking it, or dislocating it? You probably can’t, which is why you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible after you injure it. If the toe is dislocated, you’ll feel immediate, intense pain, extreme pain if you try and bend the toe, swelling, bruising, tenderness, or numbness, and possibly a very visible deformity. Some of these symptoms are also consistent with sprains and fractures, which is why a podiatrist’s opinion is necessary.
Never – and we mean never, ever, ever try and “pop” the dislocated toe back into place by pulling on it. That’s strictly Hollywood stuff. A dislocated toe is frequently accompanied by a fracture, so if you pull on it, you can do a lot more damage. If you suspect that your toe has been dislocated, seek immediate medical attention from a podiatrist. He or she will take x-rays, make a diagnosis, and then if it is indeed dislocated, realign the toe and provide you with a walking boot to protect the toe while it heals. Physical therapy may also be recommended to get the toe back in shape after the ligaments heal.
Take your foot and ankle health as seriously as pro athletes.