Ask a Foot Surgeon: When is Hammertoe Surgery Necessary?

Hammertoe surgery can be a wonderful thing for people suffering with severe hammertoe. Hammertoe can be so painful as to make walking difficult or impossible. 

From the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons:

"What Is Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop.Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to non-surgical treatment.Because of the progressive nature of hammertoes, they should receive early attention. Hammertoes never get better without some kind of intervention."

A podiatrist will work with you after determining the severity of your hammertoe to form a comprehensive plan to reduce or eliminate the painful imbalance in your foot. Conservative measures are usually explored before moving onto surgery.  Some options may be orthotic devices to help with the overall imbalance in your foot, padding for the areas that are sore or developing calluses, and injections to control inflammation. When conservative options have been exhausted and/or hammertoes are severe, surgery may be your best option.

Signs you may need hammertoe surgery:

-all conservative measures have not reduced or eliminated the imbalance and pain of hammertoes

-the hammertoe has become rigid and very painful

-sores/ulcers are developing due to hammertoes

Your health insurance company will pay for hammertoe surgery when it's medically necessary; meaning, you cannot have insurance pay for the surgery for cosmetic reasons alone.

Recovery time from hammertoe surgery depends on several factors, but in general is minimal.  Surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, and you will be able to walk with a special protective boot.  Pain is typically due to swelling/inflammation, which can be controlled by medication as well as by keeping the foot elevated. When considering recovery, you should make sure that your home is 'prepped' for you prior to having the surgery performed: remove rugs that could be slip or trip hazards, avoid cabinets that you normally stub your toe on, if you have stairs in the house consider sleeping downstairs if possible, make an easy route to and from the bathroom.  As with any outpatient surgery, you can expect mild discomfort for the first few days.

Hammertoe surgery performed by a skilled foot surgeon can be a life changer for those suffering in pain. If you experience pain in your feet and notice bent, sore toes- call us!  As podiatrists in Southfield, we're centrally located for move patients and have convenient schedules to accomodate you. 

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