The term “hammertoe” refers to a tightening of the muscles in any of the middle three toes, which causes the toe to curl downward and then become too tight to straighten. The toe adopts a twisted look, which doctors typically address first with relaxation exercises and footwear that is more open. If the hammertoe is severe and noninvasive techniques prove unhelpful, doctors will frequently try to straighten the toe through surgery.
To correct a hammertoe, podiatric surgeons cut or move the tendons and ligaments that connect the structural components of the toe. This helps to bring the bones back into alignment. Sometimes, the surgeon will need to fuse the bones on either side of the affected joint. Once the surgeon has straightened the toe, he or she most often inserts pins, a wire, or a dissolving structure, such as the Weil-Carver Implant, to keep the hammertoe from reoccurring.