If you have hammertoe, you know the pain associated with it when trying to wear normal shoes, or even when walking. If you have tried all the exercises, pads, and special shoes but still have trouble walking, it is time to consider making an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Depending on the severity of your condition, there are a few different surgical options available. Luckily, they can be performed as an outpatient treatment, and you will be home and recuperating in no time.
When your affected toes are still flexible, meaning the toe can be straightened when pulled with a hand, the surgeon may opt for a tendon transfer. The surgeon will make incisions into the bottom, underside of the affected toes to cut the tendon there. This tendon will be spliced into two pieces. The pieces will be brought up over the toe, on either side, and sewn together. This will force the toe into a straight position, alleviating the pain from being constantly bent at an odd angle. It will also allow you to wear normal shoes that do not have to be a size too big to accommodate the bent toe. You should have total, normal use of the foot within eight weeks.
If the condition has progressed to the point of an inflexible joint, you may need to have a joint resection. During this procedure, an orthopedic surgeon makes an incision on the top of the toe, over the affected joint. He or she then removes a small portion of the bone in front of the joint. The bones are then realigned to be straight and held in place with a pin. The joint will be straight, but you probably will not be able to move it without using your hand. While you must wear a protective boot while recovering, the expected recuperation time is only six to eight weeks.
Sometimes, hammertoe will reoccur after having the other surgeries performed. When this happens, the surgeon may suggest having a joint fusion. This procedure is the same as the joint resection, expect that the bones are positioned closer together so they actually fuse together. Once you have recovered, the joint will be immovable, even with manual manipulation.
There is no reason to have to suffer every time you walk. While it is a good idea to try all the nonsurgical options for hammertoe, if they do not help, talk to your podiatrist about referring you to an orthopedic surgeon, like those represented at http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com. The relief you experience will be well worth a couple of months of recuperating.