Hammertoe occurs when the second, third, or fourth toe bends at the middle joint, often as a result of wearing ill-fitting shoes. Genetics, arthritis, and muscle imbalance can also cause hammertoe. The affected toe resembles a hammer, which is where the deformity it gets its name. With hammertoe, the toe bends downward, rather than pointing straight forward. Corns or calluses frequently develop at the top of the affected joint or at the toe’s tip from pressure. Hammertoe can cause pain and can lead to loss of flexibility in the toe.
Hammertoe surgery is fairly simple and takes less than half an hour. It is performed as an outpatient procedure done under local anesthesia. The doctor alleviates the curling and straightens the toe by making tiny incisions around the affected toe, then rebalancing the tendons through the incisions. Recovery time is minimal, as is pain after the surgery. The patient may need to wear a surgical shoe to protect the toe while healing.