Hammertoes: When You Will Need Surgery

A hammertoe, medically known as digiti flexus, is a contracted toe caused by the tightening of the extensor and flexor tendons. The second and fifth toes are the most commonly contracted toes but the deformity can actually occur on any toe. When the big toe is affected, is it also referred to as a hallux flexus or a ‘trigger toe’.

 

Hammertoes are common amongst adolescents. This happens when there is a rapid growth of the foot before an increase in the shoe size. A hammertoe develops to compensate. Hammertoes can be hereditary, congenital or acquired due to disease or trauma. The second toe can be easily traumatized when a person wears shoes or stockings that are too tight since it is usually the longest toe. Arthritis can also cause the development of hammertoes.

 

Since the joints of the toes might become enlarged and deformed, hammertoes can either be flexible or rigid in motion.

 

Treatment Options

Hammertoe correction is actually one of the most performed procedures for foot  specialists . Treatment options are typically guided by the patient’s level of discomfort as well as the reducibility of the affected digits.  

 

The two types of treatment for hammertoes are: conservative and surgical.

 

Conservative Treatment

This type of treatment might include replacing ill-fitting footwear with proper-fitting ones. Accommodative orthodigital devices can also be worn to relieve compression of one’s toes. In Sheldon H. Nadal, DPM’s office, prescription orthotics can be made to help relieve the pain or discomfort caused by hammertoes. Orthotics can reduce the weight load of the other toes, extends contracted toes to reduce pressure from the shoes and calluses, and forces soft tissue back under the metatarsal heads.

 

In early stages, such as  with children, adhesive materials  may help straighten the toes. Splints can also help to maintain the alignment of the toes. For splints, silicon products and moldable plastic materials are used  as they are washable and can be reused. Shoes that have extra depth provide breathable room for the forefoot  which can relief pressure on the toes. Those shoes typically come with removable insoles that can also accommodate  contracted toes.

 

Surgical Treatment

When it comes to hammertoe surgery, this outpatient procedure is performed by the podiatrist by making a small opening with local anesthetic. This is called minimally invasive foot surgery which involves less soft tissue trauma and thus less post-operative pain and swelling.  

Following the surgery, orthotic control is recommended by the podiatrist to reinforce the proper alignment of the patient’s toes.

 

If you are suffering from hammertoe discomfort and pain, do not hesitate to contact us at 416.486.9917.