Can My Hammertoe Be Corrected?

At first blush, healthy feet and toes may not make the top of your list of overall wellness and health priorities — unless you suffer from a painful foot condition that interferes with your mobility or quality of life.

While many podiatric issues can develop due to heredity like foot shape and type, other mitigating issues may be of our own doing, particularly a weakness for ill-fitting fashionable footwear. Hammertoes are one of the most common toe anomalies, affecting some 60 million people in the United States. 

Nearly half of those suffering with hammertoes undergo surgery to fix the condition. But is surgery the only hammertoe correction available? In this blog, the highly skilled team at Cardio Metabolic Institute offers their advice on best practices to correct hammertoes. 

Hammertoes explained

A hammertoe is a common progressive toe condition that gets its name from the characteristic bend in the toe’s joint that resembles a hammer. Typically the condition occurs in the lesser toes — your second, third, or fourth toes.

Risk factors for developing hammertoes include having flat feet, weak or unstable joints, high arches, or toes that are longer than others or wearing tight footwear that crowds your toes. Injuries, arthritis, and inherited traits such as shape and foot type may also be risk factors.  

In its initial stages, a hammertoe can be effectively treated through noninvasive, nonsurgical options. If left untreated, the deformity becomes more rigid as the muscles and tendons in the toe become imbalanced, and your hammertoe may require more aggressive treatment like surgery.

Switch to properly fitting, supportive footwear

Hammertoes can happen to anyone, but they’re more common among women than men. Stylish, trendy shoes may be a fashion must for some, but making good decisions while buying footwear can make a huge difference when it comes to comfort as well as foot health. 

Think proper fit and support. Look for shoes that provide room in the front part of the shoe, known as the toe box, as well as shoes that support your arches. It’s tempting. But just say no to those narrow, pointy high-heeled shoes. Your feet and toes will thank you if your shoes provide enough room for all of your toes to light flat and straight.

Use custom orthotics and insoles to stop progression

In the early stages of a hammertoe, while your toe is still flexible, your podiatrist may recommend custom-made insoles, shoe inserts, or other orthotics. These treatment options may help control the tendon or muscle imbalance issues by repositioning your toes. This ultimately results in increased comfort by relieving pressure and pain. 

Minimally invasive surgical procedures

If your hammertoe condition is severe or when more conservative treatment options fail, your podiatrist may turn to surgical procedures to correct your hammertoes. Depending on the complexity of the issue, your doctor can perform minimally invasive outpatient surgery under local or general anesthesia.

Hammertoe correction surgery involves removing damaged tissue and, if needed, fusing bones together or cutting out toe joints. In some cases, it may involve a tendon transfer procedure — in which your surgeon forces your hammertoe to shift into a straighter position by stretching a tendon across the top of the toe joint. 

Patients undergoing hammertoe correction surgery can expect a full recovery in about 6-12 weeks. After-care in many cases includes daily stretching and strengthening exercises.  

If you have a hammertoe, make an appointment for an evaluation and treatment sooner rather than later at Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, Monroe Township, or East Brunswick, New Jersey. Don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Click or call today for an appointment at the office nearest you.

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