Hammertoe Surgery – Do You Need It?
A hammertoe is a condition best described as having buckled or crooked toe(s). While any of your toes may be affected, it is most common with the second and fifth toes. Patients with hammertoes usually complain of pain on the top or tip of the toe, as well as the ball of the foot.
When your shoes are uncomfortable, pressure may cause a portion of the skin to harden, mostly on the knuckles or the ball of the foot. Because not that many know what hammertoes are, most people do not even know that they have one and instead believe they have corns. With hammertoes however, your toes may be irritated and swollen. There may be a dull or sharp pain which is worsened by wearing shoes, although some patients say they do not feel any pain at all.
If the symptoms are not bad enough for surgery to be performed. You may consider non surgical treatments. There are anti-inflammatory medicines, injections, custom foot orthotics, toe splints and pads, and physical therapy, among others.
Is Hammertoe Surgery for You?
Sometimes though, the non-operative treatments mentioned are not enough. At best, they can only minimize pain and address slight swelling. A surgery on the other hand, can provide a more permanent solution to the problem itself and not just the symptoms.
You can have your toes realigned or straightened. It actually depends on how severe the condition is or how long the toe is, but there are several methods to choose from. But in general, a hammertoe surgery would involve removing a portion of the bone It may not be necessary to remove the joint or use a surgical wire if you have minimally invasive foot surgery performed. Also depending on the direction the toe is deviated, it may be necessary to perform soft tissue procedures and to pin the toe using a surgical wire.
Traditionally, there are two methods to surgically correct hammer toes: the arthroplasty or joint resection and fusion of the joint. You should also know that most of the surgical work to be done would involve the joints on the toe and not the ball of the foot.
In a joint fusion procedure, part of one of the small joints of the toe that is directly underneath the toe that is crooked is removed. This is to make room for the toe to be repositioned or straightened.
In a joint fusion procedure the contracted toe is realigned by removing the deviated small joints of the toe to allow for the buckled joint to be positioned and the bone ends to mend together. The problem with Arthroplasty and joint fusion is that the particular part is destroyed. With minimally invasive foot surgery, podiatrists like Sheldon Nadal are able to make the toes straighter and preserve the joints.
Recovery after surgery depends on the method performed but in most cases, the toes are taped for 6 weeks. Patients can return to their normal activities sooner after minimally invasive foot surgery. Of course, there are factors that may quicken or prolong one’s recovery.