The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

New Implants Help Treat Hammertoe

Posted by on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

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A hammertoe is a structural deformity that causes the toes to permanently bend downward. According to the Mayo Clinic, causes may include: wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe box, a traumatic injury, arthritis, stroke, or diabetes. The Framington Foot Study recently revealed that one’s propensity to develop hammertoe may have a hereditary component as well, reports the Huffington Post. Many people mistakenly believe that the only way to correct hammertoe is with surgery, but that is simply not the case.

“The paradigm is shifting in surgical correction for painful hammertoes,” says Dr. Ryan Minara, one of the surgeons at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. “New, sleek implants offer stable, reliable hammertoe correction, without the need for wires sticking out of your toes!  The doctors at the Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine specialize in using these implants to reduce painful deformities, leaving you with healthy, happy, pretty feet.”

What was the old standard for hammertoe correction?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that toe implants are seen as a better alternative to the old K-wire system. Previously, patients had long, slender metal wires surgically inserted through the end of the toe and into the bone. Some of the wire was left exposed at the end of the toe to be removed once the toe is stabilized in six to eight weeks. During that time, patients need to stay off their feet — which can be difficult to do.

 

What are the new hammertoe implants like?

By contrast, implants use stainless steel screws to keep the toes in place once the bones are properly aligned. Since the implants are permanent, it’s less likely that the condition will return. One patient in Ohio says she was able to walk out of the hospital and go home the same day she received surgery. Best of all, she had no pain the next day, was off crutches within five days, had her stitches removed a few weeks later, and was back to wearing heels within a few months.

Other reasons why k-wire is falling out of favor…

The Podiatry Institute explains that the k-wire, though the industry standard since 1931, is rapidly falling out of favor in light of new hammertoe treatment options. This type of treatment boasts an 81% success rate, but comes with a host of potential side effects. Patients may suffer from malalignment, numbness and the inconvenience of a long recovery period.

Is hammertoe surgery covered by insurance?

While toe shortening and similar surgeries are generally considered “cosmetic” (and therefore, not covered by insurance), there are a few exceptions. In the case of hammertoe, insurance companies will usually cover some of the cost, according to Fox 6 WBRC News.

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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.