Living Healthy: Hammer toe implants

Many women love high-heeled shoes but an embarrassing foot condition can keep them off their feet.

One doctor says a new procedure can correct a painful problem called hammer toes.

“I would have to be changing shoes constantly and really there was no comfortable shoe to wear,” Elma Ruiz said.

It’s believed about 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from the condition.

“So right here where your first knuckle is the head of this bone is up and prominent hitting against the shoe,” podiatrist Dr. Robert Moore said.

Doctors say toe pads, cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs can bring some relief, but many end up turning to surgical correction.

Traditionally, wire pins are inserted through the bones.

“And the pin would stick out the top and then we’d pull these pins out after surgery. Very medieval,” Moore said.

A new procedure uses an implant rather than those metal wires to permanently straighten the joint.

“These are made out of cortical bone and the 10 fuse actually stays in the bone marrow keeps the toes straight but being no metallic will eventually incorporate in the bone and will not have to be removed,” Moore said.

New mom Cindy Palos has been pleasantly surprised by her surgery after hearing horror stories of hammertoe corrections.

The ten-fuse implants allow patents like Cindy to get back on their feet in half the time.

“The pain is gone I’m able to wear heels now but I’m still trying to take it easy so I ensure recovery time is sped up,” she said.

Moore adds that because hammertoe is not just an aesthetic problem, the surgical correction is often covered by insurance.