hammer toes

What To Expect From Hammertoe Surgery



By Ken Lefkowitz, DPM

Last week we covered bunion surgery, so today we’ll discuss another common podiatric procedure, hammertoe surgery. First of all, a hammertoe is a deformity that causes the toe to bend downward in the middle so it resembles a hammer. When padding the affected toe or changing footwear doesn’t work, surgery is the only option. The purpose of the operation is to relieve pain.

As is the case for bunion surgery, there are multiple different types of hammertoe surgeries depending on the flexibility of the hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe that can be straightened can receive a tendon transfer. This involves rerouting the tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top in order to pull the bent joint into the right position. For a fixed (or unflexible) hammertoe, the surgeon may use joint resection. During this type of procedure, an incision is made in the top of the toe and tendons and ligaments may be cut so the toe straightens. For it to straighten completely, the end of the bone is removed and sometimes pins are temporarily put in place. Fusion is another method of treating a fixed hammertoe. Ligaments, tendons, and bone ends are cut and then pins, screws, and other implants are used to keep the toe straight while the bone ends heal and fuse together.

Hammertoe surgery is considered an outpatient procedure because you can normally go home on the same day as the surgery. A normal recovery period is a few weeks, but it depends on what type of surgery was performed. Your podiatrist will ask you to keep your foot elevated at heart level as frequently as possible while the incision heals. Two to three weeks after the surgery, stitches may be removed. Until then, you will not be allowed to put your foot under water. In order to maintain toe flexibility and motion, you might even be asked to do exercises to stretch and move the toe.

If you have any questions relating to hammertoes, hammertoe surgery, or any other foot or ankle concerns, call Quality Foot Care at 215-230-9707. Make an appointment at our Doylestown office today!

Hammer Toes: Doylestown Podiatrist Ken Lefkowitz Discusses This Nagging Problem

By Dr. Ken Lefkowitz

A hammer toe is a contracture (bending) of the toe at its first joint, the proximal interphalangeal joint. There are two types; flexible and rigid. Flexible hammer toes are less serious because they are still moveable at the joint. Rigid hammer toes, seen in patients who have arthritis or wait too long to seek professional treatment, are identified by an immobile toe joint. Hammer toes can be recognized by their likeliness to an upside-down V when viewed from the side. They are usually seen in the second through fifth toes, but any toe can be affected.

Females are more likely than males to develop hammer toes. Many celebrity women, such as Katie Holmes, are known to develop them because of the shoes they wear. Hammer toes are caused by tight shoes that squeeze the toes or an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. Some symptoms commonly associated with hammer toes are: pain at the top of the toe from pressure in the shoe, the formation of corns on top of the joint, redness and swelling of the joint where it bends, restricted motion of the toes, and pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the toe that is believed to be affected.

To prevent hammer toes, the best thing you can do is wear properly fitting shoes—NEVER wear shoes that are too small/narrow! Wearing custom orthotics made by your podiatrist will improve the mechanics of your foot and help with conditions such as flat feet. This can help balance the muscles in the toes and stop hammer toes from forming.

If you have hammer toes, you shouldn’t hesitate to visit a podiatrist. Leaving them untreated can cause less serious flexible hammer toes becoming rigid. If this happens, non-surgical treatments may not work and you will most likely need surgery. Call Quality Foot Care, conveniently located in Doylestown, at 215-230-9707 and make your appointment today.