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Sports Medicine Physicians

For a complete listing of all of our physicians click here.

We serve as team physicians for the Washington Redskins, George Mason University Patriots and nineteen area high schools. OrthoVirginia is equipped to help amateur, student and professional athletes alike. Whether it is an injury or just normal wear and tear, we work closely with our patients to develop individualized treatment plans to help them get back in the game.

Sports Injuries

Plantar Plate Tear

Plantar Plate Tear is a sprain of the main joint of the big toe. It happens when the toe is forcibly bent up into hyperextension, such as when pushing off into a sprint and having the toe get stuck flat on the ground.

Sprains of the big toe joint became especially prevalent in American football players after artificial turf became more common on playing fields - hence the term "turf toe." Artificial turf is a harder surface than grass and does not have much "give" when forces are placed on it.

Although often associated with football, turf toe occurs in a wide range of sports and activities.

Plantar Plate Tear

The typical position of the foot when a turf toe injury occurs.


The big toe is made up of two joints. The largest of the two is the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP), where the first long bone of the foot (metatarsal) meets the first bone of the toe (phalanx). In turf toe, the MTP joint is injured.

Plantar Plate Tear

The MTP joint is the large joint closest to the base of the big toe.

The joint is surrounded by important structures that hold it in place and prevent it from dislocating. Together these structures are referred to as the "plantar complex."

Plantar Plate Tear

Several structures work together to protect and stabilize the MTP joint.


The term "turf toe" refers to an injury of any soft tissue structure in the plantar complex, such as the plantar plate or a collateral ligament. These injuries can vary in severity — from stretching of the soft tissue to partial tearing, and even total dislocation of the MTP joint.

To help them plan treatment for turf toe, doctors grade the injuries from 1 to 3 - mild to severe.


Turf toe can occur in any sport or activity when the forefoot is fixed on the ground, the heel is raised, and a force pushes the big toe into hyperextension.

These injuries most often occur among American football players on artificial grass. Artificial surfaces tend to be harder and less shock absorbent. In addition, the athletic shoes designed for artificial surfaces are softer and more flexible, providing the athlete with more agility, but much less stability in the forefoot.

Plantar Plate Tear

The force of a football tackle can hyperextend the MTP joint and cause turf toe.

Thinkstock © 2012

First Aid Treatment

The RICE protocol is effective for most sports-related injuries when they first occur. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

In addition, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help provide symptom relief.

For more information on how to treat Plantar Plate Tear, please visit