If you have hammer toe and the pain from your condition interferes with your daily life, your podiatrist might recommend surgery. Hammer toes don't always need surgery, but if your toe is bent in a way that you can't wear shoes or you have frequent pain, surgery could be the solution.
Hammer toe surgery can be done in different ways, so your doctor has to consider the condition of the bone, tendon, and nerve in your toe when deciding on the best approach. Here's what you might expect with hammer toe surgery.
You May Have Outpatient Surgery
Hammer toe surgery is often done as an outpatient surgery, so you get to go home the same day. You might have general anesthesia, but your doctor could also offer a choice between it and a local anesthetic with sedation. You'll be provided with complete instructions for your recovery before you leave so you know how to care for your toe at home.
Your Toe Joint Is Straightened
Your doctor straightens your bent toe joint during this surgery. It might be necessary to remove part of the bone in your toe joint and then fuse the ends of the bones together. The doctor may insert a pin through your toe to hold the joint stable and remove the pin in several weeks after the joint has fused. The doctor might use screws, rods, or a plate instead to hold the joint in place, and those are left in permanently.
Removing bone is often necessary when your toe is stiff and frozen in a bent position. If your toe can be straightened by hand, the doctor might only need to release the tendons so your toe can stretch out. Tendon surgery might be done along with removing part of your bone, or tendon surgery might be done alone depending on the condition of your toe.
Recovery May Take Weeks
After the procedure, your toe may be swollen and painful. Your doctor might prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable right after the surgery. You'll probably wear a boot that supports your foot, and you may even need to use crutches for a time so you can stay off your foot.
Your doctor may want you to be as mobile as possible to stimulate blood flow and prevent complications. You may be encouraged to walk daily, but swimming may not be allowed since your toe should stay dry during the early stages of recovery. You might need a follow-up appointment to remove stitches or to take out the pin in your toe.
The doctor checks your progress then and gives you an idea of when you can resume your normal activities. Depending on which foot is affected and what type of work you do, you might need to take time off work and refrain from driving for a few weeks.
Walking is simple, right? You just put one foot in front of the other. This can be harder than it sounds if your feet are sore or plagued by ailments like bunions, hammertoe, or plantar fasciitis. If you've ever struggled to simply put one foot in front of the other, you're familiar with this unique pain and frustration. Thankfully, podiatrists have solutions for most common foot ailments. In the articles we've collected here, you can learn all about those solutions, and also about podiatrists in general. We hope that by being more informed, you can take a more preventative approach to foot care also also know what to expect when you seek treatment.