Dealing with a hammertoe is an unfortunate, but not uncommon, part of life. Indeed, millions of people experience hammertoes as adults, and there are a myriad of reasons why a hammertoe may develop, including choice of footwear, foot injury, genetics, or simply years of wear and tear on the foot. Though hammertoes are unsightly and painful, there are steps individuals can take to both prevent and correct them. To that end, today we’ll review what you can do if you’re suffering from this condition. Here’s how to correct a hammertoe:
What are Hammertoes?
A hammertoe is a condition in which one of the toes becomes bent downward at the middle joint –– like a hammer. Hammertoes are caused because of an imbalance in the muscles and joints of the toe, which forces the tip of the toe to bend downward. Individuals may develop hammertoes because of tight-fitting footwear, injury to the foot, or the mere shape of their feet and toes. While hammertoes tend to affect women and older individuals more than the general population, anyone can have a hammertoe at any point in their life.
Correcting Hammertoes without Surgery
In some instances, individuals may be able to correct a hammertoe without undergoing surgery. However, doing so requires quick diagnosis and action shortly after a hammertoe develops. That’s because there are two stages (or types) of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. Flexible hammertoes can still bend at the joint, while rigid hammertoes cannot. If you manage to identify a hammertoe while it is still flexible, your doctor may recommend you try one or more of the following to correct the hammertoe and restore the correct alignment of the muscles:
- Switch to more comfortable footwear (and cut out tight-fitting shoes like high heels).
- Perform exercises to strengthen the toes.
- Wear shoe inserts or pads to cushion and reposition the toes.
Under the right circumstances, these methods may act to fix flexible hammertoes. Rigid hammertoes, on the other hand, can only be corrected through surgery. Splints, pain medication, and other methods will only provide short-term relief for rigid hammertoes.
Traditional Hammertoe Surgery
Hammertoe surgery acts to realign the muscles and joints in the toe(s) that caused the unnatural bend in the first place. Generally speaking, surgeons can either perform a traditional open-foot surgery, or a minimally invasive procedure to achieve this desired result.
Unfortunately, traditional hammertoe surgery involves making a large incision along the toe. This not only contributes to scarring and soreness after the procedure but also significantly adds to the recovery time.
Minimally Invasive Hammertoe Surgery
Conversely, minimally invasive hammertoe surgery is designed to correct the misalignment in the toe without causing undue pain or inconvenience. Unlike traditional hammertoe surgery, minimally invasive procedures involve only very small incisions to correct muscle and joint problems. This means that the procedure is much less painful, invasive, and damaging than an open-foot surgery. Minimally invasive hammertoe surgery is an outpatient procedure, and many of our patients are able to resume their daily activities almost immediately after the surgery.
At Northwest Surgery Center, we can help you find the perfect treatment method to handle any foot-pain issue you’re struggling with. From bunions, to heel spurs, to hammertoes –– our staff are experts in the field of minimally invasive surgery. We can help you get back to living your life to the fullest ASAP. Contact us here to learn more or to schedule a consultation today.
To learn more about minimally invasive bunion surgery, download our free “Guide to Minimally Invasive Foot & Ankle Surgery”!