Hammertoes are –– at best –– an unsightly, irritating annoyance. With time, though, hammertoes can become very painful and prevent people from living their life to the fullest. In some cases, hammertoes may also indirectly lead to calluses, sores, and even blisters on the foot. Unsurprisingly, plenty of people who suffer from hammertoes would love to correct them. So, how do you fix a hammertoe? Here, we’ll explain what causes hammertoes, how you can prevent them, and what steps you can take to repair them once they do form.
Causes of Hammertoes
Hammertoes can happen to anyone at any age. They are caused when muscles or tendons in a toe place too much pressure on the joint, thus forcing it to curl upward or downward. Generally speaking, though, older individuals are more likely to develop hammertoes than the rest of the population. That’s partially because hammertoes often form over a long period of time after years of wearing tight-fitting footwear (high heels in particular). In addition, some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to hammertoes. Indeed, if your “second toe” is longer than your big toe, you could be at greater risk for developing a hammertoe.
Flexible vs Rigid Hammertoes
Hammertoes –– like many other foot conditions –– tend to get worse over time. Once a hammertoe forms, it’s not going to get better on its own. However, early diagnosis of a hammertoe could allow a patient to adopt nonsurgical methods to alleviate the pain and symptoms associated with hammertoes, as well as make some progress toward correcting them.
In other words, there are essentially two types of hammertoes. Flexible hammertoes, which can still bend at the joint, and rigid hammertoes, which cannot. If a patient has flexible hammertoes, a doctor may recommend that they try non-surgical methods to deal with the issue, such as:
- Switching to more comfortable footwear (and cutting out tight-fitting shoes like high heels).
- Performing exercises to strengthen the toes.
- Wearing shoe inserts or pads to cushion and reposition the toes.
On the other hand, once a hammertoe is no longer able to bend at the joint and has become fully rigid, these more conservative treatment methods will not act to repair the damaged hammertoes. What’s more, some flexible hammertoes may end up becoming rigid even with nonsurgical treatments. In such scenarios, minimally invasive surgery is the best way to fix a hammertoe and alleviate the pain they cause.
Minimally Invasive Hammertoe Surgery
While some people may be hesitant to undergo surgery to correct their hammertoes, the reality is that minimally invasive hammertoe surgery is safe, quick, and effective. Additionally, patients who choose to undergo minimally invasive hammertoe surgery won’t have to deal with an extensive recovery period or months of immobility. That’s because expert surgeons are able to fix a hammertoe by using a very small incision, which both limits scarring and cuts down on healing time.
Other fast facts about minimally invasive hammertoe surgery include:
- Outpatient procedure.
- Lasts around 90 minutes total.
- Most patients are able to walk around and drive home immediately afterward.
- Most patients are able to return to work the following day.
At Northwest Surgery Center, our expert team has the skills, resources, and the experience to ensure positive outcomes for our patients. Plain and simple, we can help you correct painful and annoying hammertoes for good. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a free consultation!