Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which your immune system tries to destroy the tissue in your joints. Most often, it starts in a single joint of your feet. Once the attacking starts, the affected joint will become inflamed and painful. You may not realize what is going on, thinking you must have somehow injured the joint, and forgo seeing a physician. By the time you do seek medical intervention and have the condition diagnosed, more joints are affected, some of which may now be fused or deformed, a condition called hammertoe, and require surgery. An orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the following surgical options available to you.
If the joint is still flexible enough to be pulled straight, you may opt to have a tendon transfer. In this procedure, the tendons on the bottom of the toe are moved over the top of the toe to pull it straight again. This will reduce the pain you feel when wearing shoes. It will also help with your balance. In addition, tissue that has been damaged due to swelling can be removed to reduce the pain you feel when barefooted.
When the joint has become stiff, one way of treating it is with a joint resection. The ligaments and tendons that are holding your toe in the bent position will be cut to remove the restriction. If necessary, the tips of the bones will be removed to allow them to straighten correctly again. Temporary pins can be put into the bones to hold them in position until they are healed in place. If not all the joints and ligaments had to be cut, you will still be able to bend the toe after the healing is complete.
Fusion is another method for treating hammertoe when the joint is stiff. It is very similar to a resection, with the ligaments, tendons and bones being cut. However, the pins put in the bones are permanent and allow the bones to grow together. There will be no joint anymore and the toe will be straight at all times.
Orthopaedic surgery for hammertoe is not perfect. You may still experience some pain when you use your feet for long periods of time. However, it will alleviate the pain you feel while resting, and with time and therapy, you will be able to walk, stand, and even run with less pain than what you experienced before the surgery. For more information, contact a local clinic like Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester.