• 925 Clifton Ave, Ste. 107 Clifton, NJ 07013

Hammer Toe Surgery

When you wear shoes that are too tight or have a muscle imbalance in your ankles and feet, your toes may become misaligned. As a result, they may end up being bent into a shape that looks like a hammer. The common ailment, called hammer toes, is a painful condition that worsens if you continue to wear high heels or improperly fitted shoes. Hammer toes may need just some physical therapy or a splint to straighten out, but an experienced podiatrist like Dr. Velimir Petkov knows when hammer toe surgery or removal is justified. To avoid surgery, visit Clifton podiatry practice as soon as you recognize the symptoms. Caught early, hammertoes are easier to treat. Call today for an evaluation.

Hammer toe is a condition in which a toe is stuck, bent at the middle joint. It usually affects the second, third or fourth toe on either foot. You may also notice corns, callouses or a bunion, along with the hammer toe deformity.

High heels and shoes that are too tight in the toe area can increase your risk of developing this condition. If you tend to hold your toes in one position for a long time, the muscles tighten and can’t stretch out. An injury to the toe or an imbalance of muscles can also contribute to this toe deformity.

In its earliest stages, a hammer toe is flexible enough that it can be fixed with conservative treatments, but you still need to seek the advice of an expert podiatrist at the first sign of the abnormality. Once the toe becomes rigid, you may need hammer toe correction surgery. If you have a toe joint that’s bent, painful and difficult to move, have your feet examined by Clifton, New Jersey foot specialist at Premier Podiatry for a firm diagnosis and effective treatment.

Treatment Options for Hammer Toe

When your hammer toe is still flexible, it may be possible to correct it without hammer toe surgery. Conservative treatment options for hammer toe include:

  • More supportive footwear. The first step to take to address your hammer toe is to begin wearing roomier shoes with a wide toe box. Avoid wearing high heels. Your shoes should be at least a half-inch longer than your longest toe.
  • Orthotics. Shoe inserts or pads reposition the toe and help relieve pain and pressure. Your podiatrist can either prescribe custom inserts or advise you on the best over-the-counter bands.
  • Toe exercises. You can stretch and strengthen your toe muscles by doing toe exercises. An example is using your toe to pick up items off the floor or gently stretching your toes manually. A physical therapist can show you these and other therapeutic exercises to relieve your toe pain.

If your toes are swollen or painful, ice packs may help reduce the inflammation and pain. Non-medicated corn pads or cushions can help prevent discomfort when you wear shoes. When conservative methods don’t help and your hammer toe is painful, stiff or limiting your activity, surgery may be the best option.

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Surgery for Hammer Toe Correction

A hammer toe surgery procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia, which shortens recovery time and prevents complications that can occur when general anesthesia is used. The most common surgery for hammer toe used to be a traditional procedure that involved permanently fusing two bones together to straighten and stabilize the toe. Newer procedures allow your podiatrist to implant permanent rods and screws in the toe to hold it stable or use a minimally invasive procedure to release the stuck tendons.

After surgery, you may experience some stiffness and swelling in the toe. That’s normal and disappears. It may take up to 12 weeks to be able to wear most of your own shoes. You may need a wide, soft and deep shoe in the meantime. Other recovery tips include:

  • Keep your foot elevated as much as possible for the first few weeks after surgery.
  • Wear a special shoe to avoid bearing any weight on your foot for four to six weeks.
  • Use crutches whenever you walk, keeping weight off the recovering toe.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders for physical therapy to increase your chances of a full recovery.

Getting Help for Hammer Toe

Hammer toe can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but it doesn’t always require hammer toe correction surgery. You may be able to correct the problem before surgery becomes necessary, as long as you follow the instructions your podiatrist gives you for relieving symptoms. It’s especially important to get professional guidance for hammer toe if you have medical problems such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. The earlier you see your foot specialist, the more likely it is that conservative treatment will work for you.


What are hammertoes?

A hammertoe is a condition where the middle joint of the big toe bends in an unusual direction, typically inwards on the foot, and the toe is forced into an unnatural position. This condition can be rigid where the toe cannot be moved or flexible where the joint can still be manipulated. The bent toe is often exposed to increased rubbing and friction which causes discomfort and irritation of the skin.

What causes hammertoes?

Muscles in the toes work in pairs, and when they become imbalanced, they can pull the delicate bones of the feet out of alignment causing a hammertoe to form. This puts a great deal of pressure on the joints and tendons which push the toe into the hammerhead shape. The extra pressure is also responsible for the pain associated with the condition. There are three common causes for the imbalance which include:

  • Arthritis
  • Injury to the toe and shoes which do not fit properly are a common cause
  • Genes – a person can inherit a tendency to develop hammer toes

How are hammertoes treated?

There are several different types of surgical techniques used to treat hammertoes depending on the condition of the toe’s muscles, tendons, and joint. If surgery is needed, the doctors use minimal incision/no scar procedures to reduce recovery time and to minimize any risk of scarring.

The best person to evaluate and treat hammer toe or any kind of foot pain, heel pain, ankle pain or toe pain is an expert in the field of podiatry. You don’t need to live with the discomfort of hammer toe, bunions or other foot problems. Contact Premier Podiatry today and make an appointment to see Dr. Petkov for an evaluation and professional recommendation on the best treatment for you.

This page was published on Dec 30, 2019, modified on Dec 25, 2020 by Velimir Petkov, DPM of Premier Podiatry

Premier Podiatry: Velimir Petkov, DPM
925 Clifton Ave, Ste 107
Clifton, NJ 07013
(973) 315-5555

The information on this website is to provide a general podiatry information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect a definitive treatment advice. It is important to consult a best in class podiatrist regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough podiatric evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your local foot doctor or New Jersey podiatrist Velimir Petkov, DPM, to schedule a consultation.
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