Hammer toes: restoring comfort and health

Hammer toe deformity is a pathologic change that manifests itself in the curvature of one or more toes, as a result of which the phalanges of the toes are bent, taking the shape of a hammer. This deformity is provoked by a disruption of the tone of the flexor tendons and reduced mobility of the interphalangeal joints of the toes, causing curvature of the proximal interphalangeal joint.

Hammer toes are not only an aesthetic problem. It can lead to pain, restricted movement, ingrown toenails and even the formation of corns and calluses. If hammer toe treatment is ignored, it will be difficult to return the toe to its normal position.

At Illinois Foot & Ankle Clinic, we offer a comprehensive approach to the correction of hammer toe and related pathologies, utilizing modern, innovative technologies including arthroplasty, arthrodesis, and other surgical techniques for hammer toe surgery.

When Is Hammertoe Correction Recommended?

Often, curvature of the toes on the feet is associated with certain medical conditions: 

  • Halus valgus;  
  • transverse clubfoot; 
  • poliomyelitis; 
  • cerebral palsy.

The main causes contributing to the development of deformity are: 

  • genetic predisposition; 
  • obesity; 
  • joint diseases (arthrosis, arthritis); 
  • diabetes mellitus; 
  • psoriasis; 
  • very high arch of the foot; 
  • ill-fitting shoes.

Correction of hammer toe becomes necessary when the pathology leads to serious symptoms that significantly limit a person's usual functions. Characteristic symptomatology is manifested by:

  • a pronounced deformity of the toes; 
  • inability to straighten the toe without assistance; 
  • increasing pain; 
  • corns on the sole of the foot; 
  • calluses on the back of the joint; 
  • subluxations and dislocations of the metatarsophalangeal joints; 
  • limitation of movement; 
  • limping; 
  • difficulty in fitting shoes.

Preparation for Surgery

A number of examinations and preparatory measures are necessary before the operation. 

Consultation with a doctor 

  • Familiarization with the anamnesis, examination and determination of the degree of deformity, selection of the optimal method of correction. Foot X-rays, CT or MRI scans may be ordered to assess the condition of the bones, joints and soft tissues).

Laboratory studies 

  • Blood tests (general, biochemistry, for HIV, hepatitis B and C, coagulogram), ECG.

Additional examinations 

  • Ultrasound of the vessels of the lower extremities, ECHO-CG (in the presence of cardiovascular disease). 

Lifestyle changes 

These changes may include a healthy diet, moderate physical activity and smoking cessation, as smoking can slow wound healing.

Preoperative restrictions 

  • Before surgery, it is necessary to stop taking drugs that affect blood coagulation (aspirin, warfarin, etc.). Discuss it with your doctor.
  • For 8 hours before the operation, can not eat and drink fluids. 

Compliance with all recommendations will help to maximize preparation for surgery, reduce the risk of complications, provide a faster and more comfortable recovery. 

The Hammertoe Correction Procedure

In the treatment of hammertoe deformity and related pathologies in the form of onychocryptosis (ingrown toenail), our clinic uses both conservative therapy and various surgical techniques. 

Conservative therapy includes: 

  • wearing orthopedic shoes; 
  • the use of special interdigital partitions; 
  • performing exercises to strengthen the muscles of the foot; 
  • physiotherapy procedures.

Its effectiveness depends on the degree of deformity, causes of development, background diseases, age and activity of the patient. 

Conservative therapy of hammer toe is used at an early stage of the disease. In more neglected cases, surgical treatment is recommended:

MICS (Minimally Invasive Surgery) is a modern treatment method that allows surgery to be performed through small incisions (up to 2–3 cm). 

  • The surgeon uses special instruments that are inserted through small incisions. 
  • The surgery is performed under X-ray control, which allows precise positioning of the instruments. 
  • During the operation may be performed: removal of overgrown bone tissue, resection of part of the metatarsal bone, and insertion of an implant. 

Arthroplasty is a procedure designed to restore joint mobility. 

  • The surgeon removes overgrown bone and cartilage that is deforming the joint. 
  • In some cases, part of the metatarsal bone may be resected (removed).  
  • If necessary, the surgeon may perform simultaneous surgery to shorten the toe - osteotomy of both the phalanx and metatarsal bone. 
  • Various methods can be used to restore joint mobility: insertion of an artificial joint, tendon grafting, cartilage transplantation. 

Arthrodesis - aimed at creating a fixed joint between the bones of the joint. During the operation, the surgeon fixes the joint between the bones of the toes completely or partially to prevent further deformation. In doing so, he or she uses various fixation methods such as plates, screws or pins to achieve the necessary joint stability. After arthrodesis, the joint becomes immobile, but the patient continues to experience full mobility in the other joints of the foot. 

During arthroplasty, arthrodesis, or MIS, it is possible to address a concomitant pathology by removing an ingrown toenail. In some cases, this may be appropriate, as it allows you to:  

  • reduce the number of operations; 
  • reduce traumatization; 
  • accelerate the healing process. 

However, the decision on whether to remove the toenail during such procedures should be made by a doctor, taking into account the specific situation and the severity of the problem.

Recovery and Aftercare

After surgery, it is important to properly care for the foot to ensure a quick and successful recovery.  

Recovery Period: 

The first few days after surgery are accompanied by slight discomfort, soreness and swelling of the foot. These are normal body reactions to surgery. In the first few days, it is important to monitor the condition of the wound, treat it daily and change the dressing. Cold compresses will help reduce pain and swelling.  

  • During 1–2 weeks, pain and swelling gradually subside. During this period, it is recommended to limit physical activity.  
  • After 3–6 weeks, you can return to daily activities, but you should avoid intense loads on the foot and avoid shoes that may put pressure on the operated toe. 
  • After 6–12 weeks, you can gradually increase the load on the foot.  

On average, the recovery process takes from 1 to 2 months. 

Benefits of Hammertoe Surgery at Illinois Foot & Ankle Clinic

By choosing Illinois Foot & Ankle Clinic for hammer toe surgery, patients can be assured of high quality care. Our benefits are justified by a number of factors. 

  • Our lead specialist, Dr. Alexander Yanovskiy, is a skilled professional with extensive experience in foot and ankle surgery.
  • We offer access to state-of-the-art treatment technologies and an individualized approach to each patient; 
  • We utilize advanced treatment methods in our clinic.  
  • We provide complete control of treatment from the first consultation to the recovery process. 

Choose Illinois Foot & Ankle Clinic for hammertoe surgery and experience the difference firsthand. Schedule your consultation today for personalized care and superior results.

Contact Us

Have any questions? Reach out to us from our contact form and we will get back to you shortly.

1400 East Golf Rd, Unit 201, Des Plaines, IL 60016

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