Between hammertoes, bunions, and bunionettes, foot abnormalities can impact your feet in many ways.
In this month’s blog post, our team of foot health experts at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle will focus on the first one on the list — hammertoes. This aptly named foot abnormality is common, especially as you get older. Fortunately, surgery can treat it.
While we understand that surgery isn’t always a preferred option, it’s often the best for progressive conditions like hammertoes.
The making of a hammertoe
Each of your four smaller toes has three joints — one at the base of the toe, one in the middle, and one just beneath the top segment of your toe. A hammertoe usually develops in the middle joint, called your proximal interphalangeal joint.
In most cases, it’s an imbalance in the muscles of your foot that places lopsided pressure on the small joint. The joints in your toe bend and straighten with opposing muscle groups, and if one group is pulling more than the other, the muscles can shift the joint into a crooked position.
As a result, the joint in the middle of your toe pulls upward, giving your toe a hammer-like appearance. It usually occurs in your second, third, or fourth toes.
When surgery is the best option
Initially, a hammertoe usually isn’t problematic as the toe can still straighten. However, over time, your toe can become stuck in the position, which can make wearing shoes very uncomfortable. Pain, blisters, and calluses are all common side effects of hammertoes.
A hammertoe will not resolve on its own, and once it takes hold, it never gets better and often worsens.
So, if your hammertoe is causing pain or limiting your mobility, surgery is often the best choice.
Hammertoe surgery at a glance
The good news is that we perform hammertoe surgery on an outpatient basis, which means you go home on the same day.
During surgery, we typically fuse the two small bones at the joint together to create one long, straight bone in your toe. We may also reposition tendons in your toe to better support the digit.
After hammertoe surgery, we provide you with a walking boot or crutches. In most cases, you should expect 4-6 weeks of healing, but you should be able to enjoy improved mobility during this time (though you won’t be running any races!).
If you have questions or want to explore whether your hammertoe warrants surgical intervention, we invite you to contact one of our 13 offices in Tennessee to schedule a consultation.