A hammertoe is a deformity that causes a toe to become bent upward in the middle so it resembles a hammer. Many patients with the condition try to manage it by treating the symptoms – by padding the toe and changing or stretching shoewear for comfort.
This can work, but is inconvenient and often fails to provide the long-term relief required. In such cases, the patient may consider surgery.
Usually, hammertoe correction is done as an outpatient procedure, using a local anaesthetic. The actual technique used by the surgeon depends on the specifics of the condition. For example, if the hammertoe is flexible, a tendon transfer procedure may be used to correct the problem. This involves rerouting the tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top of the toe where it is sticking up. This helps pull the bent joint into a straight position.
If, however, the Hammertoe has become stiff, there are two options for treatment - joint resection (where the end of the bone is removed to allow the toe to straighten completely, and pins are temporarily used to hold the toe straight), and fusion (where the ends of the bone are cut to straighten the toe, then pins or screws are used to keep the toe straight while the bone ends heal together).
Following surgery, patients may be given a special shoe to wear, to help with walking. Recovery normally can take a few weeks depending on the type of surgery that was used.