Q:

What happens if hammertoe is left untreated?

A:

Quick Answer

If left untreated, hammertoes can become rigid, a condition that requires surgery to correct, explains the American Podiatric Medical Association. Surgical options to treat rigid hammertoes include joint resection and joint fusion, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.

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Full Answer

Joint resection surgery involves cutting toe ligaments and tendons, along with removing pieces of bone, to create straighter toes, states the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Surgeons insert pins to help keep toes straight as they heal and remove the pins within three to four weeks after surgery.

During joint fusion surgery, surgeons remove a portion of the toe joint and insert a piece of wire to straighten the toe, explains WebMD. The wire enables the toe bones to fuse together as toes heal. The surgeon removes the wire four to six weeks after surgery.

Flexible hammertoes may or may not require corrective surgery, notes the American Podiatric Medical Association. Non-surgical treatments include padding and taping toes to reduce pain and discomfort. Customized shoe inserts help correct hammertoes and help prevent hammertoes from becoming rigid.

Surgical treatments for flexible hammertoes include tendon transfers, according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. During this procedure, surgeons manipulate and reroute tendons to straighten toes. Potential risks for any hammertoe surgery include infection, blood clots, and nerve and blood vessel damage.

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