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If you’ve noticed a permanent bend in the knuckles of one or more of your toes, you’ve probably noticed something else—it isn’t getting any better. That’s unfortunately the reality of the condition. Hammertoes, like most foot or toe deformities, are a progressive condition. Once you start down the path, no amount of hoping or wishing can reverse the damage that’s taken place. Only surgery can correct them.
So, if you have a hammertoe, you must need surgery, right? Not necessarily.
Yes, it is true that surgery is required to permanently realign the toe. But realignment isn’t necessarily the be-all, end-all goal of treatment. In our opinion, function and mobility are far more important goals than aesthetics, and most of our patients agree. If non-surgical treatments can bring about the necessary pain relief and allow you to engage in daily tasks and hobbies without restriction, there may be no compelling reason to go through the pain and stress of a full-blown operation.
What do those non-surgical treatments look like? Typical strategies include switching out your tight shoes for those with extra room and depth, or using soft pads to reduce pressure and friction on toe tips and knuckles. In the early stages, hammertoes are bent at rest but can still be realigned manually, so splints or taping can be effective, too. Hammertoes that have progressed further, however, become too rigid for such measures.
If nonsurgical treatments aren’t working, or you find that painful side effects like corns keep re-emerging, surgery becomes more attractive as a treatment option. Fortunately, most hammertoes can be corrected via a relatively minor in-office procedure. You’ll be off your feet for at least a couple of days, and probably won’t be able to wear normal shoes for at least a week. Full recovery time varies depending on the type of procedure performed.
The bottom line, though, is that most of the time with hammertoes, you’ll have treatment options—and the earlier you see the podiatrist, the more options you’ll have. To schedule an appointment with Gulf South Foot & Ankle today, please call us at (504) 708-4810 for Metairie, or (985) 809-1464 for Covington.