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Local orthopedic surgeon explains how toe injuries can impact life on and off the field

Aaron Rodgers toe
Posted at 3:37 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 18:28:05-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — As Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to deal with pain from a fractured toe, a local orthopedic surgeon explains how this type of injury can affect athletes on and off the field.

Rodgers said his toe "feels worse" after the Packers beat the Chicago Bears Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Many fans who watched the game in person said the injury didn't seem to impact his game.

"I think he's playing through it pretty well," said Jame Erwin, from Biloxi, Mississippi. "I think he had a phenomenal game. One of the most accurate passers in the NFL right now and probably in NFL history. He threw some great dimes to Devante and Allen Lazard. Even that one-possession play touchdown to Aaron Jones. I think he's playing phenomenal."

Julian and Justyn Byrd traveled from Oregon to watch Sunday's game, sporting Rodgers jerseys around Lambeau the following day.

"He got a couple good passes, so it was pretty good," said Justyn Byrd, from Salem, Oregon. "Hopefully he doesn't go all the way to the playoffs and then something happens. Hopefully we get him all the way."

Dr. Harold Schock is an orthopedic surgeon with BayCare Clinic. While Schock doesn't treat Rodgers and doesn't have knowledge about the quarterback's specific injury, he said any type of toe fracture or injury may feel fine on a day-to-day basis.

“It may not bother you at all until you try to do a quick start, or pivot, or runaway then all of a sudden you can have really sharp pain that can slow down your ability to move," Schock said.

Schock said toe injuries can range in severity, from stubbing a toe on an end table to fracturing a bone. He said the location of the injury can determine the level of problems for someone's who's running, twisting or pivoting.

Due to the small size of bones in the toe, Schock said it's hard to know how the affected area will respond to quick movements until the toe is tested.

“Sometimes people will feel pretty good until they do an activity that puts a lot of stress through that bone or on that particular toe," Schock said. "Then all of a sudden you have that sharp pain and you have the potential to be back to square one.”

Schock said severe toe injuries can take six to eight weeks to heal. Less serious cases can take two to three weeks.

There are of course key differences between injuries and healing times of athletes and others who aren't on the same physical level.

“If I have an injury to my toe, I can walk through most of my day and not make any quick pivoting movements for a month or so, and it’ll often get better," Schock said. "If I’m demanding a high level of quick, cutting maneuvers out of my foot, then all of a sudden a seemingly innocent toe injury is something that could be really bad that bothers me pretty quickly.”

Rodgers said surgery on his injured toe will be a last resort.