Can Correction Surgery Help With Hammer Toes?
More and more persons are getting foot surgery to correct different ailments, with a steady increase since 2012. Surgeries for hammertoe are among the treatment options used by patients today. Surgery may correct the deformity and help patients have a better life quality. But is correction surgery worth the risks that may come along? Understanding surgery can help hammertoe patients make a sound decision.
What is a hammertoe?
Except for the big toe, each toe contains 3 joints. Small ligaments, muscles, and tendons surround these joints, helping with flexibility. A hammertoe has an abnormal bend at the middle joint, making the toe bend downward. The tendons and muscles are unable to straighten the joint effectively. If left untreated, the toe stays fixed in that position and can be very painful.
Nailing down the cause of hammertoes
Hammertoes are easy to identify by the bent position. The toe cannot extend without assistance. Someone with a hammer toe will develop calluses on the toe, feel constant pain when moving, and may experience numbness. Most cases come from improperly fitting shoes, an untreated broken toe, diabetes, or arthritis. Older persons, particularly women, are more at risk. Luckily there are a few treatment options available, including surgery.
Conservative treatment at your fingertips
Once identified early, hammertoes can be treated using simple techniques. Most doctors start with physical therapy to improve the toe’s flexibility. Shoe inserts, orthopedic straps, and other helpful devices can ease the pain and help with realignment. If the pain continues, over-the-counter medications or corticosteroid injections can help. In most cases, these treatment options are helpful and can fix the toe’s natural alignment. Yet, some patients have severe cases that these methods cannot improve. The only solution is correction surgery.
It’s time for surgery
Surgery seeks to realign the bone and address any structural issues causing the condition. There are several effective procedures. After doing an X-ray or MRI, an orthopedic surgeon can use one of several techniques. Arthroplasty and arthrodesis are the most common options. Arthroplasty removes all of the joint, while arthrodesis removes some of the joint. Other procedures adjust surrounding tendons or remove more pieces of bone to straighten the toe. Pins or wires help hold the bone in place. With follow-up therapy, the toe should heal in 6-8 weeks.
Is foot surgery worth it?
Most cases respond well to exercise, physical therapy, and footwear changes. However, surgery is worth it for those with chronic pain. Of course, there are risks with any surgery. A common risk is the possibility of the hammertoe recurring. However, a surgical correction has a 90% success rate. Minimally invasive procedures have also reduced the risk of infections and increased success rates. For persons who want to improve the quality of life and reduce pain, surgery is the best bet.
Knock out that hammertoe today
Hammertoes can reach the point where standing or walking causes excruciating pain. Surgical correction seeks to remove bone and adjust the surrounding ligaments. These changes can strengthen the toe and relieve pain. If the toe does not respond to treatment, foot surgery is worth exploring. Speak with a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon to learn more about a quick, outpatient procedure.
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