When Other Treatments Fail, Hammer Toe Surgery may be the Right Solution
Hammer toe is a deformity that can be extremely painful for the individual who suffers from it. The way that the deformity causes the toe (most often the second toe) to become fixed in a bent position can be the result of pressure from footwear that does not fit properly and causes the internal tissues, muscles and tendons to tighten to the point that they are unable to relax. In some cases, hammer toe is present at birth, or can be the result of other health conditions. In any situation is it rare for all toes to be affected. Resolving the problem can require hammer toe surgery, but other treatments will usually be explored prior to the recommendation of a surgical solution.
Treating Hammer Toe
For most people hammer toe treatment may include:
- Changing types of footwear worn by the individual
- Introducing a special insert or padding to correct toe position (while in motion and at rest)
- Using a hammer toe regulator
- Certain exercises or stretches intended to improve muscle/tendon flexibility
In any case, treatments should be discussed with a doctor to ensure that they do not cause further strain or damage to the internal tissues of the toe, as improper stretching or devices could cause the deformation to become more extreme.
A Surgical Solution
When other forms of hammer toe treatment fail, a surgical solution may be the most realistic course of action. Especially in situations where the afflicted individual finds walking, standing, or wearing shoes painful, surgery can prove to be the only route to relief.
The type of surgery that the individual receives is usually determined case-by-case. Where some instances of hammer toe may require the space between joints in the toe to be increased, while other situations may need the affected joints to be fused. It is important that medical professionals discuss realistic expectations and results from the surgery, as well as proper after care with their patients. With the information necessary to properly care for themselves after their procedure, patients can actively reduce the risk of infection as well as other complications that can result from negligence during the healing process.
Hammer toe is a deformity that goes beyond cosmetic appeal. When the deformity causes pain to the individual, it can make caring for oneself difficult at best. In order to alleviate the problem, seeking the right treatment is necessary. Should other forms of treatment, such as orthopedic inserts or stretches, fail to resolve the problem, turning to hammer toe surgery could be the answer. By working closely with their medical team, individuals suffering from hammer toe, or another toe deformity, should be able to find the relief that they so desperately need.
Doctormenke.com, “Hammertoe Surgery: What to Expect With Hammertoe Surgery”, 2011.
https://ww.nlm.nih.gov, “Hammer toe”, Aug. 11, 2012. Updated by: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery