Understanding the Different Types of Hammertoe Surgery

A whopping 77% of adults in the United States have foot pain, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, but only a third seek treatment. Plus, almost 35% of patients who sought help from a podiatrist learned of underlying issues like circulatory problems and diabetes. 

Hammertoe might affect one toe or several. It can quickly cause additional complications when the toe or toes rub against your shoes, so it’s critical that you see a podiatrist right away. If you’ve tried conservative treatments but still suffer discomfort, it may be time to discuss surgical options for hammertoe.

At New Canaan Podiatry, Jennifer Tauber, DPM, is a trusted expert when it comes to your feet and toes. She uses state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technology to treat and heal patients of all ages. Do you think you might have hammertoe? Dr. Tauber can give you a quick checkup and begin treatment immediately.

What is hammertoe?

Have you ever seen a foot where the toes look all squished together? Hammertoe looks like that. It’s a disorder of the toe’s joints and tendons, and it creates an abnormal bend in the joints. 

It causes your toe to become deformed and stick up above the other toes. It usually affects the toe next to your big one or your little toe. Many times, a person with hammertoe also suffers from corns, blisters, or calluses on the top of the hammertoe because of its excessive rubbing against a shoe. Dr. Tauber may try non-surgical treatments before recommending surgery.

Nonsurgical treatment

A study by the APMA discovered that the No. 1 culprit of foot pain is high heels, and the average woman owns nine pairs. This is one of the reasons appropriate footwear is so important. 

Experts recommend switching to wide or loose footwear if you are already plagued by hammertoe. Also, wear padded socks to create a barrier between the shoe and your foot. You might try over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief. 

Orthotic shoe inserts can help your hammertoe pain by distributing your weight more evenly and removing extra stress from your toes.

A hammertoe gradually worsens if it isn’t adequately treated. The toe becomes stiffer as the condition progresses, and eventually, it becomes painful. The longer you leave the toe untreated, the stiffer it gets, making it unresponsive to nonsurgical treatment options. Hammertoes don’t get better on their own, and they do require treatment. 

If the disorder continually progresses without intervention, you might need surgery.

Fusion surgery

During fusion surgery, the surgeon cuts the tendons and ligaments of the misshapen toe to straighten it. Additionally, the ends of the toe bones are cut to help straighten the toe. Because the ends of the bones need to fuse back together to heal, the surgeon uses pins or screws to reconnect them and allow them to heal.

Joint resection surgery

This surgery corrects and straightens the tendons and ligaments as well. It’s possible that the surgeon will cut them to help you extend the toe. Also, the end of the toe bone is removed to help stretch the toe and straighten it out. This surgery also includes small pins or rods to keep the toe straight during recovery.

Recovery

Although hammertoe surgery is typically an out-patient procedure, it takes a few weeks for you to heal up completely. You might need help walking during the recovery period. A walker or crutches are useful while your toe heals. 

Either surgery might leave you with a longer or shorter toe than you had before. You will likely have pain and stiffness for a little while, and you’ll need to keep your foot elevated during the recovery process. 

A few weeks after your surgery, you return to have any temporary pins, screws, and rods removed. The great news is that it is highly unlikely you’ll suffer from hammertoe again, especially if you wear proper shoes.

Both surgical options are serious procedures. Dr. Tauber helps guide you in making the right decision. Call today for an appointment, or use our convenient online scheduling tool. We look forward to meeting you to discuss treatment options.

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