The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Hammertoe Implants a “Pleasant Surprise,” Says Patient

Posted by on Monday, August 24th, 2015

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It is estimated that 10 to 20% of Americans suffer from an embarrassing foot condition known as hammertoe. “Rather than the toes sticking straight out and lying flat, they are locked in a perpetual curl. The toe then rubs against the top of the shoe — causing pain and irritation that makes shoe shopping a challenge,” explains Dr. Josef J. Geldwert from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City.

“In many ways, the hammertoe is like the little sister of the bunion, another common foot deformity with hereditary links,” he adds. “This time of year, we do many elective surgeries to correct these problems when quality of life diminishes for our patients.” The good news is that a new procedure can correct hammertoes more efficiently than before.

hammertoe
Surgery is often used to correct hammertoe, though not all procedures are the same in terms of recovery time, healing, and comfort. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Should You Ask Your Doctor About Hammertoe Surgery?

Our podiatric surgeons are careful not to minimize the significance of surgery. Every operation carries a small risk of infection, non-healing wounds, scar tissue, and unforeseen complications. When you first come to see us, we will ask what home remedies or professional treatments you’ve tried before. If it’s a new complaint, we may advocate toe pads, cortisone shots, and anti-inflammatory drugs to bring some relief to your symptoms. Sometimes more spacious shoes and physical therapy make hammertoes more bearable as well. Generally, if the toe isn’t horribly painful, then we don’t recommend surgery just for cosmetic reasons.

A New Hammertoe Procedure Yields Great Success

In the past, hammertoe surgery was no joke. Metal Kirschner wires were the golden standard of hammertoe repair for more than 30 years. Woven through the bones to stretch the toes back into flatter alignment, patients were left with metal pins sticking out at the top of the toes that would be removed sometime after surgery. Recovery could last a good three months.

The very notion of visible wires sticking out of the toes was very disconcerting for many patients who would rather suffer with the pain than go through that “medieval” ordeal. Those who went through with the procedure point out the discomfort and inconvenience of the wires. One patient writing in an online forum recalled that it “hurt like hell” whenever her wires touched the tip of her surgical boot and stated that it was quick — but “not pleasant” — having the wires removed.1http://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/post-hammertoe-surgery-recovery?page=14

However, a new procedure uses hammertoe implants that are entirely embedded in the toe, making the implants more convenient than wire-type implants, and less prone to infection.  No invasive metal wires are necessary. Some of the new implants are made from metal – the StayFuse implant is made of titanium – but others are made from cortical bone.2http://www.podiatrytoday.com/current-and-emerging-insights-hammertoe-correction This means that the implant will become a part of the body, and will not need to be removed, reducing the number of visits to the doctor and shortening healing time.

Though there is more than one type of implant on the market, the Solana Surgical TenFUSE implant has been in the news headlines recently.3http://www.whdh.com/story/28936271/living-healthy-hammer-toe-implants One patient, Cindy Palos of Houston, Texas, says she “has been pleasantly surprised by her surgery” after hearing so many horror stories about hammertoe correction. With her new implant, she was able to get back on her feet in half the time and says she is now pain-free and back in heels. Most patients who receive implants are off crutches and walking around after a week or two. In six to eight weeks they are usually back to work and more rigorous activity.

Hammertoe Implants In NYC

Experienced board-certified podiatric surgeons await to repair your hammertoes and bunions at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City. We understand that each individual patient has a unique set of health conditions that require a custom approach to treatment. Therefore, we are highly trained and adept at using multiple types of implants, techniques, materials, and therapies. Contact us to discuss any foot issue affecting your quality of life. For your convenience, we offer centers in Manhattan near Central Park, as well as Westchester, NY.

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1. http://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/post-hammertoe-surgery-recovery?page=14
2. http://www.podiatrytoday.com/current-and-emerging-insights-hammertoe-correction
3. http://www.whdh.com/story/28936271/living-healthy-hammer-toe-implants

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.