Certain foot and ankle conditions can usually be addressed with conservative care (plantar fasciitis, stress fractures) but others might require surgical intervention. Although it is our hope to treat every patient without resorting to surgery, sometimes—such as when we correct hammertoes—this is simply not possible.
When it comes to hammertoe surgery, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle has the team you want to perform your procedure. Dr. Evan Merrill is experienced, skilled, and ready to restore your toe back to its normal positioning. This webpage will help you understand more about the condition and procedure, so you will be able to make an informed decision regarding your healthcare.
Hammertoe, Mallet Toe, and Claw Toe Conditions
Hammertoe is a condition that develops in response to strength imbalances between the muscles and/or tendons in the top and bottom of a toe. With this particular toe deformity, the result of the imbalance is an abnormal bending in the middle toe joint. Because of the downwards bend, the affected toe resembles a hammer shape. This condition can be caused by a traumatic injury, ill-fitting footwear, cavus foot (high foot arches), or arthritis. It is often found in the second or third toe.
Hammertoes might be the most common toe deformity we see besides bunions, but there are also two related conditions – mallet toe and claw toe. With mallet toe the abnormal bend is in the joint closest to the tip of the toe. Claw toe is marked by bending in both the middle and top joints, which leads to a claw-like appearance. This condition often affects all four smaller toes at the same time.
Hammertoe, and the other related conditions, are progressive in nature. This means they are irreversible and will continue to worsen if left untreated. Conservative care may relieve symptoms, but surgery is the only way to truly correct these toe deformities.
Hammertoe surgery is most often used for toes that have become painful and rigid. It is typically performed on an outpatient basis and may make use of three different procedures. A tendon transfer is simply a matter of rerouting tendons to pull a bent joint into proper position. With joint resection we make an incision in the top of the toe and then clip tendons or ligaments and remove the end of the bone to allow the toe to completely straighten. With joint fusion, both ends of bone are cut—along with ligaments and tendons—and held in the correct position until they heal together.
Following the procedure, you can expect a few weeks for the recovery process to occur. During this time, you might need to wear a special shoe and keep your foot elevated for extended periods of time. For some patients, we may prescribe crutches or a walker, depending on your ability to walk. We also provide exercises to move and stretch the toe to maintain motion and flexibility in the toe.
Stitches are typically removed between two and three weeks following the procedure. In some cases, we use pins that are intended to be removed at a later time. If this applies to you, we will schedule a follow-up appointment.
Professional Hammertoe Care in Southern Oregon
Before we recommend surgery to correct a hammertoe, we may employ conservative treatment methods to address the issue. These can include shoe modifications, exercises, and the use of cushions or non-medicated pads to relieve discomfort or other symptoms. Conservative care tends to be more effective for hammertoes that are discovered early, when they are more flexible. These treatments will not reverse or correct the condition, but they might be able to provide sufficient symptom relief and prevent the necessity for surgery.
No matter which path for treatment your hammertoe condition might need, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle provides expert care for all of our patients from across the greater Medford, OR community. If you have any questions or require further information, simply give us a call at (541) 776-3338 and one of our friendly staff members will be glad to help. We can also assist you with scheduling an appointment, or you can do this right now with our online form.