Hammertoe Specialist in New Jersey

What is a hammertoe and what causes it?

A hammertoe is a condition in which the toe bends at the middle joint, also known as the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. Bending of this joint can occur in one or all of the middle toes between the big toe and pinky toe. Bending can occur in either direction and typically occurs when there is a muscle imbalance in the foot. Other causes may include pre-existing bunions or wearing narrow shoes, both of which may cause toes to push into each other. Hammertoe is usually associated with pain, along with a range of other symptoms and conditions, including:

  • Painful corns between or on the surface of toes
  • Corns or calluses at the heel of the foot
  • Pain at the heel of your foot
  • Decreased joint mobility
  • Redness or swelling near the joints
  • Arthritic pain in the toe joints
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bunions
  • Flat feet
  • Knuckle pads

Treatment of a hammertoe will vary based on the above symptoms and associated conditions, along with the type of hammertoe deformity that is present. There are two types of hammertoe deformities: a flexible hammertoe and a fixed hammertoe.

When a hammertoe first begins to develop, it is known as a flexible hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe can usually be reversed with nonsurgical, conservative treatment methods, such as wearing wider shoes or performing toe-strengthening exercises.

Left untreated, a flexible hammertoe may progress to a fixed hammertoe, where the joint becomes immobile and stiff. Conservative treatment, such as appropriate footwear and custom orthotics may be recommended to help treat the advanced deformity. However, if nonsurgical treatment is ineffective, hammertoe surgery is often suggested.

What is hammertoe surgery?

Hammertoe surgery is any surgical procedure used in hammertoe correction and treatment. There are three main types of bunion surgeries available: tendon transfer, joint resection, and fusion. Each involves different surgical techniques and methods.

When is hammertoe surgery needed?

Hammertoe surgery may be recommended if you are experiencing pain during daily activities and if treatment without surgery is ineffective. Surgery is typically most successful in patients who do not have an underlying condition that is causing the toe deformity. If an underlying condition is present, your doctor may first recommend treating the root of the problem.

What does hammertoe surgery involve?

Depending on the progression of the deformity and whether it is fixed or flexible, surgery and recovery time will vary. In most cases, hammertoe procedures can be performed in the comfort of your doctor’s office. Hammertoe surgical procedures may include:

  • Tendon transfer — is usually performed when the hammertoe is still flexible. This procedure involves your doctor repositioning the affected toe into its correct anatomical position.
  • Joint resection — is usually performed when the hammertoe is fixed. This procedure involves your doctor gently modifying surrounding toe structures to help realign the toe. Your doctor may also remove certain sections of bone. Temporary pins may be implanted to help keep the toe joint stabilized.
  • Fusion — is usually performed when the hammertoe is fixed. This procedure involves your doctor surgically modifying tendons, ligaments, and bone. Pins will then be implanted to stabilize the joint and be removed once the joint has fused.

After surgery, you may experience toe swelling, stiffness, and redness. Depending on the performed procedure, the length of the treated toe may differ slightly from its original length. Recovery will involve keeping weight off of the affected foot, along with foot elevation, to help enhance the recovery process. Post-surgery, crutches or other medical devices may be recommended if you experience pain while walking.

What are the benefits of hammertoe surgery?

If you are suffering from hammer toe-related pain or other symptoms, hammertoe surgery can help alleviate your symptoms and concerns. Benefits of hammertoe surgery include:

  • Pain relief
  • Restored mobility and joint function
  • Cosmetic restoration

If your current treatment plan is ineffective in providing you with hammertoe relief and you would like to learn more about hammertoe surgery, request an appointment with us today. Our friendly and accommodating staff provides prompt and punctual service and is dedicated to providing high-end, compassionate podiatric care. At Northeastern Foot & Ankle, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Khoury takes the time to carefully listen to and understand your medical and cosmetic concerns, recommending and providing the most appropriate treatment options paired with innovative and emerging technologies to help meet your podiatric needs. Call 973.473.6665 or scroll to the top of the page to request an appointment.