BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - Hammertoe is a condition where one or more toes are bent downward and frozen in an unnatural and uncomfortable position.
The traditional method of fixing the toe can be painful and require weeks of rehab. Now, a new procedure is making it easier for patients with hammertoe to get back on their feet.
Catherine Linthicum is walking well, with a little help from her son, Jim. She's recovering from a procedure designed to get her back to the activities she loves.
"I actually would love to go fishing," Linthicum says "That's on the top of my list."
Until recently, Linthicum struggled with hammertoe. The toes on her one foot curled up whether her shoes were on or off.
"I had numbness, tingling, a burning sensation," says Linthicum.
Mark Myerson, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, says women's fashion, especially high heels, plays a big part.
"The foot is brought up, the toes are crowded and this tends to happen to the toes," Dr. Myerson explains.
The traditional way of fixing hammertoe involves inserting pins to hold the joint in place. Patients can be at high risk for swelling and infection. Dr. Myerson is using a new device called the HammerLock 2 which is made of nitinol.
"It gets inserted into the bone, we then clip it back," he says. Doctors realign the toe, and then the nitinol expands and fixes the toe into position.
Dr. Myerson says with the new implant, there is little chance of something moving out of place. He says the pins sometimes spin around in the toe and become loose. Since patients are able to be mobile more quickly, recovery is often much faster.