FAQs: Hammer Toe Surgery

Man's foot with deformed little toes and severe toenail fungus isolated on white.  Also has a bunion.

Do you need hammer toe surgery? Hammer toes are an embarrassing condition that affects millions of people every year. The unsightly hammer toe leaves many people wondering what could be done to help correct the problem and allow them to slip back on their open-toed shoes without shame. At Triad Foot Center, we receive a lot of questions about hammer toes and available surgeries to help correct a buckled, contracted or crooked toe, so we’ve pulled together some of our most frequently asked questions to help you understand your surgical treatment options.

 

What is a hammer toe?

Hammer toe is a deformity of the toe, in which the end of the toe is bent downward, into a claw-like shape (there is also a toe deformity called a claw toe, but is slightly different than a hammer toe). At first, you may be able to move and straighten the toe, but over time, the toe will no longer straighten and may become completely immobile. Usually, a corn will form on top of the toe from rubbing against the top of footwear, and a callus will likely form on the bottom of the foot as well. These can become painful, especially when walking.

Why undergo hammer toe surgery?

Reducing pain, increasing comfort when wearing shoes, and to correct the appearance of the foot are some of the main reasons people decide to undergo hammer toe surgery.

What are the risks of hammer toe surgery?

Like all surgeries, there are risks involved.  Infection, nerve and vessel damage, bleeding, and blood clots are all risks associated with hammer toe surgery. These should be discussed with your podiatric surgeon to help determine if you are more likely to experience any of these complications.

 

Do I need to be hospitalized for hammertoe surgery?

No. Hammer toe surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you’ll go home the same day.

 

What are the different hammertoe surgeries?

There are two main types of hammer toe surgeries:

  • Joint resection (arthroplasty): This type of procedure involves removing part of one of the two small joints of the toe that are deformed.
  • Bone-mending (fusion): This procedure realigns the deformed toe by removing the deviated small joints of the toe. Surgical hardware is often implanted to help keep the toe stationary while it heals.

 

What should I expect for recovery?

Your podiatrist will give you a special shoe for walking, and you’ll be required to keep your foot elevated as much as possible. Depending on your situation and your surgical procedure, you may be given crutches or a walker to aid in walking.

Stitches are typically removed within two to three weeks post-surgery, and if pins were placed in your foot, they will be removed after approximately four to six weeks during a regular office visit. Internal fixation may also be used, and in this case, wire is not sticking out of the toe and nothing will need to be removed.

You may also experience pain and swelling, which are typical following any surgical procedure.

 

Can I walk after surgery?

Yes. However, every situation is unique, so you may need the help of crutches or a walker until you’re fully healed.

 

Can my hammer toe come back after surgery?

It’s possible that the affected toe may try to curl again over time, depending on the type of surgery you’ve had to correct the hammer toe. If the toe begins to become deformed again, and there is pain and/or discomfort associated with it, there are other, more aggressive surgical options to address it.

 

Will I be able to bend my toe after surgery?

You will be able to bend the toe at the ball of the foot, but the little joint in the toe may not bend after surgery. It all depends on the type of surgery and the severity of your hammer toe, especially if there has been a bone fusion.

 

Will hammer toe surgery also remove the corns on the top of the toe?

The reason you have corns on your hammer toe is because the toe has been rubbing against the shoe, which left a dried skin buildup known as corns. Once the hammer toe has been corrected, the corn will most likely correct on its own because the toe will no longer be rubbing against the shoe.

 

For more information about hammer toe surgery, or to speak to one of the podiatrists at the Triad Foot Center about your hammer toe, please click here to request an appointment with one of our podiatrists or contact one of our three office locations conveniently located in the Piedmont Triad.

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