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What Is A Hammertoe?

A hammertoe refers to a situation where the middle of a toe has become raised or bent upwards, thus resembling a hammer.  Most people that suffer from hammertoe also have some other condition affecting the toes as well. The raised portion of the toe comes in frequent contact with shoes and can have corns form on top.

When Is Surgery Indicated For Hammertoe?

The first attempt of doctors and patients is to manage this condition without resorting to surgery. This will include wearing specialized shoes that have some additional room for the raised portion, including padding, to prevent excessive friction and force being transferred, as well as taping the toe to try and keep it in position.

If these measures are unable to provide comfort to the patient and allow normal activities without pain, then a surgical option may be considered. Constant and reasonably severe pain in the affected toe is also treated as one of the direct indications for hammertoe surgery.

Absolute Contraindications For Hammertoe Surgery

Patients that are suffering from an active infection in the area or are not medically fit enough to undergo the procedure should avoid hammertoe surgery. People whose only complaint is that of a cosmetic nature should also not be advised hammertoe surgery since the primary aim of this procedure is to relieve pain and facilitate normal usage of the feet, not to improve the cosmetic appearance.

How Is Hammertoe Surgery Carried Out?

The kind of procedure that is being carried out will depend on the particular kind if hammertoe that has been diagnosed. Hammertoes can be flexible or fixed.

For a flexible hammertoe, the surgeon might carry out a tendon transfer procedure in which the toes is attempted to be brought back into position by straightening the attached tendons.

For a fixed hammertoe, the most common procedure involves a surgical removal of the ends of the bone to straighten the toe out and then to fix it in position through the use of surgical pins. A fusion process can also be carried out which involves cutting the bone ends, using bone grafts and stabilization techniques through the use of implants or pins to eventually straighten the toe.

This procedure is usually carried out as an outpatient procedure and the patient is free to go home the same day.

After Hammertoe Surgery

Patients are required to wear specialized shoes after surgery and be on bed rest for a specified period of time. The operated foot should be kept at the level of the heart for the first week to ensure maximum blood circulation to the area.

Stitches are usually removed after a few weeks and any pins that might have been placed are also removed within three to four weeks after the surgery.

The removal of these pins is relatively pain-free and can be carried out under local anesthesia. The patient does not have any prolonged discomfort from this part of the procedure.

The doctor will most likely also advise the patient to carry out certain stretching exercises so that a proper range of motion can be developed.

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