Lee’s Summit Podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster Uses Minimally Invasive Surgery to Help Patients Find Relief From Painful Hammer Toes

Feet after minimally invasive hammer toe surgery Minimally invasive surgery offers multiple benefits for people struggling with foot and ankle pain. If a painful hammer toe is keeping you from leading an active lifestyle, Lee’s Summit podiatrist Dr. Joel Foster can help you determine if minimally invasive surgery can get you back to making the most of each day.

What Are Hammer Toes?

Hammer toe is a foot deformity that affects one or more of the toes. This condition occurs when there is an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that control the movement of the toe joints. It's characterized by a bending or curling of the toe so it resembles a hammer.

Hammer toe can be classified as either flexible or rigid.

  • Flexible hammer toe. With a flexible hammer toe, the affected toe can still be moved at the joint. This means that even though the toe is bent, you can manually straighten it out.
  • Rigid hammer toe. A rigid hammer toe means the affected toe is fixed in its bent position. The toe joint has become stiff and can't be straightened using physical manipulation.

What Causes Hammer Toes?

Hammer toes can be caused by multiple factors that affect the muscles, tendons, and bones in your feet. 

  • Foot structure. Certain foot shapes, such as having a high arch or a second toe longer than the big toe, can predispose people to develop a hammer toe.
  • Improper footwear. Shoes that are too tight, narrow, or high-heeled can force the toes into an unnatural position and contribute to the development of hammer toes.
  • Genetics. Some people might inherit a genetic predisposition to developing hammer toes.
  • Age. Hammer toe becomes more common as people age since the muscles and ligaments in the feet become less elastic over time.
  • Injury or trauma. Previous foot injuries can lead to muscle imbalances and contribute to the development of hammer toe.

How Do I Know If I Need Hammer Toe Correction Surgery?

Here are some signs that indicate a need for hammer toe surgery:

  • Persistent pain. If your hammer toe causes persistent pain that doesn't improve with non-surgical treatments like changes in footwear or the use of orthotics, you should consider surgery.
  • Development of corns or calluses. Development of corns, calluses, or open sores due to friction or pressure from the hammer toe indicates surgery is necessary.
  • Worsening deformity. A hammer toe that continues to worsen should be surgically corrected.
  • Impaired movement. Difficulty walking or performing daily activities indicates an immediate need for surgery.

When you meet with Dr. Foster, he will make a treatment recommendation based on your symptoms and the progression of the toe deformity.

What Are the Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Dr. Foster performs minimally invasive hammer toe surgery that avoids the joint fusion, joint resection, and hardware associated with traditional surgical techniques. Some of the benefits of minimally invasive surgery for hammer toe correction include:

  • Outpatient procedure. Minimally invasive hammer toe correction is an outpatient procedure, so you won’t need to worry about staying in the hospital overnight.
  • Reduced scarring. Minimally invasive techniques involve tiny incisions, resulting in minimal scarring compared to traditional open surgeries. This lets you feel confident about the appearance of your feet.
  • Less pain. Reduced tissue trauma during the procedure leads to decreased post-operative pain and discomfort.
  • Lower risk of infection. Smaller incisions minimize exposure to external contaminants, lowering your risk of post-operative infections and ensuring a safer surgical experience.
  • Joint preservation and no hardware. Traditional hammer toe procedures usually require the removal of joint cartilage and the use of screws, pins, or implants, which leaves the joints stiff. With minimally invasive hammer toe correction, there is no hardware and no cutting into the joint spaces. This allows for some continued motion of the joints and a more natural look to the toes.
  • Quicker overall recovery. Patients are able to return to walking sooner when they choose minimally invasive surgery to correct a hammer toe. However, you’ll still need to limit activity to some extent on the affected foot until the toe has completely healed.

In terms of cost, minimally invasive surgery is often times less expensive than traditional hammer toe correction surgery. In fact, if performed in our office surgical suite, it can save you thousands compared to hospital surgery room fees. And, since Dr. Foster’s office uses a direct-pay model, you’ll know your cost upfront instead of finding out after the fact that the majority of the charges aren’t covered services or it all went toward your deductible—leaving you a massive bill. That does not happen here!

Can HyProCure Treat My Hammer Toe?

HyProCure is a type of minimally invasive surgery that places a small titanium stent into the sinus tarsi, the naturally occurring space between your heel bones and your ankle. The stent corrects talotarsal displacement, which is a misalignment in the bones of the back half of the foot. Talotarsal displacement contributes to many different foot problems, including hammer toe. When you meet with Dr. Foster, he can answer your questions about HyProCure and determine if this is the best approach to treating your hammer toe.