Hammertoe is a type of foot deformity that affects the knuckles of the toes. It can happen to a single toe or several. This deformity causes the toe to be permanently bent upwards and in a c-position. The toe joint can remain flexible at first then gradually become stiff and rigid. Hammertoe can range from mild to severe and can cause pain when walking. In order to correct this condition, surgery is often recommended.
Some risk factors for developing hammertoe are:
Older adults are more likely to develop this condition.
Women are more at risk than men for hammertoe.
Hammertoe occurs more in those that have a longer second toe.
Diabetes can damage nerves in the toes leaving them more susceptible to hammertoe.
Arthritis can weaken the joints in the toes and cause a deformity.
Those with a bunion are at a greater risk of developing hammertoe.
Minimally Invasive Hammertoe Surgery
Every patient is different and treatment for hammertoe depends on the person. Your podiatrist will determine what is best for your hammertoe.
If surgery is required to correct the problem, it can be done as a minimally invasive procedure. This makes it faster and safer while reducing recovery time. Surgery is recommended if:
- Your pain is persistent and getting worse.
- It is painful to walk or stand on your feet.
- Daily activity has been limited due to the condition.
- Nonsurgical treatments such as orthotics or physical therapy have failed.
- It is difficult to wear shoes.
Minimally invasive hammertoe correction uses small three-millimeter incisions rather than a large, open incision. Screws and pins are not needed and alignment is done using tape and wrapping. During surgery, the patient is awake and is given local anesthesia where the area being operated on is numbed rather than general anesthesia where the person is not awake.
Hammertoe correction can involve the following:
- Straightening and shifting of the tendons
- Cutting ligaments and tendons in order to straighten the toes
- Fusing of the toe joint to reduce pain
Surgery Risks and Complications
If you are planning on having hammertoe correction, your podiatrist will explain any risks or complications involved with the procedure. Some possible complications are:
- Pain or swelling
- Nerve damage
- Weakness in toe or toes
- Bones may not heal properly
- Blood clot
- Hammertoe reoccurrence
Recovering From Hammertoe Correction
Since surgery for hammertoe is done as a minimally invasive procedure, there is a quick recovery time. Surgery is done using a small incision rather than a large one. This type of surgery has benefits such as:
- Less bleeding
- Less pain
- Fewer complications
- Reduced risk of developing an infection
- Minimal or no scarring
- Little or no damage to nerves and surrounding tissue
After surgery, the patient is often able to walk out themselves and be almost pain-free. Some patients may need a walker or crutches until they are able to bear their body weight. Hammertoe surgery general recovery is often six weeks and the patient is able to return to work and other activities. A full recovery can take six months to a year.
Recovery from hammertoe correction can involve:
- Physical therapy to condition and strengthen the foot
- Elevating the foot to reduce swelling
- Wearing special footwear
- Changes in lifestyle habits
Do You Need a Caring and Experienced Podiatrist?
If you are suffering from hammertoe and need help, contact our office for an evaluation. You can contact us online to schedule your appointment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office, please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office, please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.