Whether it’s caused by years of wearing narrow or unsupportive shoes or a genetic abnormality affecting certain toes, hammertoe is a deformity that can make it difficult for you to wear shoes or even walk. Most of the time, muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the foot and/or toe aren’t so imbalanced or tight that the affected toe can’t still move. Even if your hammertoe is still flexible, a referral may be made to the best hammertoe surgeon in Los Angeles so you can receive a thorough examination and a customized treatment plan.
Conducting a Thorough Foot Exam
Your visit to the best hammertoe surgeon in Los Angeles will likely start with a thorough examination of your affected toe and foot. This process usually involves testing the hammertoe’s flexibility and checking for signs of damage to other parts of the affected toe and foot. If additional damage or irritation is suspected, image tests may be performed to look at what’s going on with soft tissues, joints, and bones. Additional testing may be done if you diabetes or another underlying health condition that could make a deformity like hammertoe more problematic.
Exploring Non-Surgical Treatments
Being referred to the best hammertoe surgeon in Los Angeles doesn’t mean surgery will be your only or first option. As long as the affected toe is still flexible, you may benefit from non-surgical treatments. Separate treatment is sometimes necessary for corns and callouses that often develop on the middle joint of a hammertoe. With flexible hammertoe, a surgeon may prefer to start with one or more of the following conservative treatment options:
- Shoe inserts or custom orthotics
- Toe muscle strengthening exercises (e.g., picking up marbles with your toes)
- Cortisone injections directly into the affected toe to relieve pain
- Supportive pads or foot straps
Performing Corrective Hammertoe Surgery
It’s when your affected toe is unable to be moved or manipulated into a more comfortable position that the best hammertoe surgeon in Los Angeles is likely to recommend surgery. There are multiple variations with hammertoe correction surgery. Generally, hammertoe correction involves repositioning the toe itself, realigning supporting tendons, and removing damaged or deformed bone.
One more specific option with hammertoe surgery is to perform an arthroplasty, which is the removal of half of the joint under the part of the toe that’s bent downward. If the entire joint is removed (arthrodesis), wires or pins are usually temporarily inserted to maintain stability during the healing and recovery period.
A tendon transfer may be done to reroute certain tendons to provide added strength to toe that was deformed. With severe hammertoe, the base of the bone below the affected toe may be removed (basal phalangectomy). Another surgical tactic is to remove part of a metatarsal bone and insert special hardware to allow tissues to heal correctly.
Even after receiving treatment from the best hammertoe surgeon in Los Angeles, this deformity may develop again on other toes. In order to reduce the risk of this happening, a first-rate surgeon may recommend steps you can take to keep your feet healthy. Other than selecting the right footwear, you can keep your feet healthy by maintaining a normal weight to minimize pressure on your feet and performing foot and toe stretches to help keep soft tissues and joints flexible.