If you've ever experienced pain or discomfort accompanied by a hammer-like bend in your toes, you might be dealing with hammertoes. It's a common foot condition that affects the middle joint of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes, causing them to bend downward instead of pointing forward.
Due to the pain and physical deformity, many people wonder whether hammertoes require surgery or if there are alternative treatments.
Our board-certified podiatrists at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists encourage you to visit the southeast Florida location of your choice if you suspect you have hammertoes.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about hammertoes and when they might require surgery.
The condition is often the result of a combination of weak intrinsic muscles and strong extrinsic muscles in your foot, but there are many other risk factors, including genetics, foot structure, and wearing ill-fitting shoes.
High heels or tight footwear, for example, can force your toes into unnatural positions over time. As the condition progresses, it can become increasingly painful, making walking and wearing shoes uncomfortable.
Myth: All hammertoes require surgery
Contrary to popular belief, not all hammertoes require surgery. In the early stages, mild cases can often be managed with nonsurgical treatments.
This is another reason why it’s important to not delay podiatric care if you experience foot pain. Early interventions can slow the progression of the condition.
These treatments may include:
Wearing proper footwear
Switching to shoes with a roomy toe box can relieve pressure on the affected toes and slow the progression of the condition.
Wearing custom orthotics
Orthotic inserts are medical-grade shoe inserts that can help support your foot's arch and realign your toes. Because orthotics are custom-made based on your specific anatomy, they’re designed to address your pain points.
Perform toe exercises
Specific exercises may improve the strength and flexibility of your toes, potentially reducing pain. Toe exercises include toe lifts, big toe pulls, lateral toe stretches, walking in sand, and picking up marbles with your feet.
Try padding or taping
Applying padding or taping your toes can alleviate pressure and friction. There are many over-the-counter hammertoe products available, including toe separators, gel toe separators, and toe wraps. We can recommend the right types of products for you.
Myth: Surgery is the only treatment
While nonsurgical treatments are often effective in managing early-stage hammertoes, some cases may eventually require surgery, especially if the condition becomes severe or causes chronic pain.
In other words, surgery isn’t the only solution for hammertoes, but it can be the right solution for painful and severe cases.
Hammertoe surgery realigns your affected toes and corrects the deformity. The procedure may involve releasing or repositioning the tendons, removing a small piece of bone, or fusing the joint to straighten the toe. The specific approach depends on the severity of the hammertoe and your circumstances.
When is surgery necessary?
We may recommend surgery if:
Nonsurgical treatments have failed you
If conservative treatments don’t provide relief or if your condition worsens, we may suggest surgery.
You have chronic foot pain
Severe pain that affects your daily activities and quality of life may indicate the need for surgery. If foot pain keeps you from living the life you want, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You don’t need to suffer through the pain any longer.
You develop complications
Untreated hammertoes can lead to other foot problems like corns, calluses, or ulcers. If you develop these complications, surgery may become necessary to prevent even more complications.
The verdict is …
To return to the ritual question, not all hammertoes require surgery, but if the condition progresses or causes significant pain and complications, surgery might be the best solution for you.
The key is early detection and seeking professional advice from a foot and ankle specialist here at Advanced Foot, Ankle, & Wound Specialists. During your appointment, we determine the most suitable course of action.
Your feet carry you through life, so taking good care of them is essential for overall health and well-being. Contact the location of your choice 一 Boca Raton, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Plantation, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida 一 to schedule an appointment.