Hammertoe Implant – What You Need To Know

Close-up photo of a Hammertoe Implant

First we need to know what a hammertoe is and what its causes are. Hammertoe is caused by muscular imbalance between the top and bottom of the tendons. In this condition more than one toe bends giving it the appearance of a hammer. This is a deformity in where the toe becomes rigid and immobile. In its initial stage, it is still flexible but causes discomfort and pain. If not diagnosed and treated on time, the deformity and immobility sets in and once it reaches this stage, the only mode of treatment is a hammertoe implant.

Tendon release:

In most hammertoe cases, surgical procedures are undertaken in which your surgeon would release the tendon that has been causing the trouble, so that the toe can be stretched and it can move. Alternatively, the ligament at your joint is released while removing a miniscule part of the toe bone. While the healing process is taking place, K-wire (a kind of wire made of metal) is inserted into the toe and sticks out at its end. This wire is removed after two months. While this is healing the patient is advised on complete rest or movement with support, without putting the affected foot on the ground.

Implant procedure:

On the other hand, there is hammertoe implant procedure. Since wires cause both discomfort and pain, further research came up with a better idea, both in terms of result and comfort. A tiny sized screw is inserted inside the bone so that the toe remains in its place. Usually this implant is cannulated and is made of titanium alloy. This is an invasive procedure too, but causes far less discomfort compared to the traditional surgical procedure. Every day, the process is improved to give a better and faster recovery.

The latest designs of these implants are self-drilling and self tapping. To ensure a stable joint, there is a tri-spade stem. Before, even with the implant, the toes were partially flexible and its mobility was restricted. But state-of-the-art procedures have ensured that the toes get maximum flexibility.

Recovery time depends upon the seriousness of the toe condition. Sometimes a period of rest for four weeks is sufficient to heal the toes, while in case of complicated surgeries it may take more than a month. You can move around with the help of crutches or a wheelchair if needed and possible. Initially there will be a fluffiness and floppy-feeling in your feet. There is no need to be alarmed as the feeling disappears over time. Often swelling, another post-operative trauma, causes this feeling. Once the toe heals and the swelling is gone, the discomfort of floppy feet goes away as well. But if post surgery, the pain worsens, corns or calluses appear, it is better to consult the doctor. In the case of fever, do not wait till the follow up visit. Call the hospital and talk to the doctor or nurse. A stitch on time saves nine.