What is a Hammertoe?
A hammertoe usually refers to any deformity of the toe. Technically speaking
there are a large number of digital deformities with individual names, however
in general, people tend to refer to all of them as hammertoes.
These deformities occur when the toe buckles at one or more of the lesser toe
joints. As a result of the toe no longer sitting in a neutral plane area of overload
result- often on the toe knuckle joints or at the apex or tip of the toe. This often
results in painful and unsightly calluses or corns in these areas of high pressure.
What are the Symptoms?
The toe will have moved out of alignment and buckled in any of the three
planes of movement, and often in a combination of at least two. The planes are
up and down, left to right and rotation. So the toe looks deformed, the joints
become more prominent and buckled and a callus or corn (dead hard skin) can
grow at the apex of the deformity. Corns and calluses can become not only very
disfiguring but also very painful.
What can cause Hammertoe?
Generally, hammertoes are caused by an imbalance in the little muscles within
the foot. Toes can be congenitally long or short which can cause buckling or
retraction. Footwear is not usually the sole cause of toe deformities, but
certainly can contribute to malalignment if they are constricting, tight, short,
have too shallow a toe box, are too high or are too narrow. As with pretty much
every medical condition there is often a strong genetic component too.
Can you treat Hammertoe?
Hammertoes can be treated conservatively (non-surgically) or surgically. Non-
surgical treatments include padding, strapping and accommodating in footwear;
some ortho digital devices can be beneficial in helping to balance out the
mechanics. If conservative treatment isn’t appropriate or ineffective, surgery
can be very successful in straightening the toe, along with rebalancing or
removing the deforming force(s).
Surgery usually involves removing part of the involved knuckle joint(s) and
derotating in one or all three planes of movement, lengthening or repositioning
the toe tendons and skin-plasty as required. There is no one standard surgical
procedure as toes become deformed in several ways, so it is a matter of tailoring
the procedure for each patient. Sometimes internal pins are required and these
usually stay in permanently, other options include temporary fixation with an
external wire or splinting for 3-6 weeks after the procedure.
What can I expect from treatment?
The procedure is performed as day surgery under general anaesthetic, sedation
or local anaesthesia depending on the extent of the surgery and patient
preference. Multiple toes can be operated on at any one time. Depending on the
extent of the surgery you will need to rest and elevate your foot post-
operatively. You will be able to bear weight in a limited capacity initially, and
by 2-6 weeks you will be able to start increasing your activity to tolerance.
Once the toe has healed completely there should be no limitations on your daily
or recreational activities. In fact, because the pain and deformity have gone these
activities will become much easier.
$1200-2500 depending on the complexity, and $600-$900 for additional toes.
Disclaimer: Individual results may vary. Surgery and all health regulated services may carry some risks which you can discuss with our doctor.