A deformity of the second, third, or fourth toe is often referred to as “hammertoe”. Caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes and a muscle imbalance in the feet, the middle joint of the toe bends, causing the toe to resemble a hammer. Those with corns or calluses on the tops of their toes usually have hammertoe as well. Fortunately, these joints are often flexible and respond well to treatment, however, if left untreated, the deformity may require surgery to correct.
Dr. Jonathan Thurm begins treating hammertoe with non-invasive recommendations such as wearing comfortable shoes with roomy toe boxes. For those with hammertoe, shoes should be a half inch longer than the longest toe and should never be tight, narrowed, or high-heeled. Additionally, Dr. Thurm may prescribe exercises to strengthen the muscles in the toes and help them to remain straight as well as cushions or non-medicated pads to prevent pain in any corns or callouses.
If non-invasive measures fail, Dr. Thurm will likely recommend surgery to correct a patient’s hammertoe. The surgery is performed using minimally invasive surgical (MIS) techniques and is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home the same day as your surgery. Because of Dr. Thurm’s experience using MIS, patients often report being able to walk the same day as their surgery and return to work the next day. The patient may be given a special shoe to wear after surgery to protect the area with specific instructions on how to care for the incision sites as well as the foot while it heals completely. After the toe has completely healed, Dr. Thurm will prescribe exercises to increase the flexibility of the joint as well as advise the patient on how to prevent future recurrences.