Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX

Does Hammertoe Require Surgery?

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Does Hammertoe Require Surgery?

There are a lot of conditions that can affect our feet, damaging the bones, ligaments, tendons, or joints that help us walk. Hammertoe is a deformity that affects the joints in our lower digits, but do they need surgery?

The simple act of being able to stand up requires a lot of different parts of the body to work in concert, but without your feet, you would have nothing to stand on. The 26 bones, 30 joints, and numerous muscles, tendons, and other tissues are vital to bearing weight while standing and forward motion. And to achieve the balance and propulsion necessary for those actions, we rely on the phalanges in our forefoot, which we commonly call our toes.

Foot problems are common, and sadly, so are conditions that affect our toes, such as hammertoe, which can curl your toes and make walking uncomfortable. There are several ways to manage this deformity, but at what point does treating it require surgical intervention? Let’s find out by examining what hammertoe is, its causes and symptoms, and what issues may necessitate getting surgery to treat it.

If you live in the Fort Worth or Weatherford, Texas area and you’re struggling with foot conditions like hammertoe that makes being on your feet harder, Drs. Gary Driver, Glen Beede, Gregory Jaryga, and their skilled medical team at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.

Understanding hammertoes

This is a foot condition where the middle joint in one or more toes is bent and often happens in the toes in the middle (second, third, and fourth). This is due to a muscle imbalance in the joint and can be either flexible or rigid. The flexible form of this condition is the early stage and allows you to move it to straighten it out, but it won’t take much for the deformity to return. The rigid version has the tendons of the toe(s) tightened up, which forces the joint into misalignment and makes it both painful and immobile. A severe enough rigid hammertoe can become permanent.

Causes and symptoms

The issues that misalign the middle joint in your toe can result from several different problems, such as ill-fitting shoes, high-arched or flat feet, bunions, and long toes. Conditions that affect your feet, such as arthritis and diabetes, can also increase the risk of getting hammertoe. It is a common enough foot problem that an estimated 20% of all foot and ankle issues are related to this deformity.

Some signs of the problem will be immediately visible, such as the curl in the toe that is out of place with your others. Still, you will likely also experience trouble moving them, corns and calluses, swelling, skin discoloration, and pain at the top of affected toes or the ball of the foot.

Reasons it may need surgery

The decision to treat this ailment with surgery will depend on the stage of the condition and whether other methods are effective at managing symptoms. The flexible stage of hammertoe can be managed with basic changes like getting better footwear, stretching exercises, and various straps, cushions, and pads to keep things in place. 

Surgery is generally considered the best option when these methods stop working, or the joint becomes rigid. Surgical treatments can help in several ways, like lengthening the tendon, transferring tendons from the bottom of the foot, or a form of joint fusion (arthrodesis) that may still require adjusting the tendon in some way.

If your problems require surgery, it will generally take up to six weeks to heal, with some stiffness and swelling to be expected and limiting major activity while it mends. Hammertoe doesn’t always need surgery, but regardless of your stage, make an appointment with Drs. Driver, Beede, Jaryga, and their team at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists today to get the right treatment.