Hammertoe is a painful condition that, unfortunately, can affect anyone at any point in their life. Hammertoes are caused when muscles or tendons in the toes place too much pressure on the joints and force them to curl downward. Unfortunately, hammertoes tend to get worse over time. And that leads us to our topic of the day, namely: when is surgery necessary to ensure hammer toe repair? Here, we’ll explain the different types of hammertoe treatments and outline what you can do to address this problem: 

Rigid vs Flexible Hammertoes

Hammertoes do not form overnight. Rather, toes only become permanently curled after years of pressure (often from wearing ill-fitting footwear). This is one reason why older individuals are more prone to this condition. Because hammertoes develop slowly, it’s possible to diagnose them before they become especially painful and rigid. In practice, this means there are two types of hammertoes: flexible and rigid.

Flexible hammertoes can still bend at the joint. So if a person has flexible hammertoes, they may be able to address this issue through non-surgical methods such as:

  • Switching to more comfortable footwear (and cutting out tight-fitting shoes like high heels).
  • Performing exercises to strengthen the toes. 
  • Wearing shoe inserts or pads to cushion and reposition the toes. 

The bad news is that these treatments are rather conservative, and they are often insufficient to reverse hammertoes completely. Plus as time goes on, hammertoes may become more rigid even despite the patient’s best efforts.

As such, individuals with “rigid” hammertoes, which cannot bend at the joint, will need to opt for surgery to repair them fully. Rigid hammertoes will not get better naturally or through nonsurgical treatments.

Hammertoe Surgery 101

If you’re concerned about going under the knife to address painful or annoying hammertoes, then thankfully, you don’t actually have much to worry about. Thanks to new developments, surgeons are able to perform minimally invasive procedures to correct hammertoes quickly, safely, and with minimal inconvenience. 

Minimally invasive hammertoe surgery is an outpatient procedure. Note, the surgeon may also remove any corns caused by the hammertoes during this surgery. 

Why Choose Northwest Surgery Center? 

At Northwest Surgery Center, we’re experts in treating foot problems like hammertoes, and we use only the advanced methods available to ensure positive outcomes for our patients. When you visit us for minimally invasive hammertoe surgery you can expect: 

  • For the surgery to last around 90 minutes total.
  • To be able to walk around and drive home afterward.
  • To return to work the following day (in most instances).

In a minimally invasive hammertoe surgery, one of our surgeons will make a very small incision to correct the problem. This not only lessens any (minimal) pain felt during recovery, but also reduces scarring and allows the foot to heal faster. 


Our team at Northwest Surgery Center has the skills, knowledge, and resources to treat and repair painful hammertoes and other foot-related problems. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation!