Surgical Correction for Hammer Toes- Definition, Procedure and Risks

Sometimes hammertoe will correct itself, or can be managed with the use of pads and other nonsurgical solutions. If not treated, hammertoe can worsen and have an increasingly negative impact on your daily life. If nonsurgical solutions have failed, it might be time to consider surgery to correct your hammertoes.

What Are Hammertoes?

Hammertoe occurs when there is a shortening of the tendon that controls toe movement. This shortening causes the middle joint of the toe to bend upwards, and the outer joint bends downwards. This occurs only in the second, third, or fourth toes. Hammertoes can be quite painful, and if gone untreated, the hammertoe can worsen. Aside from the joint and muscle pain of your inflexible toe, the unnatural position can lead to calluses and corns.

What Causes Hammertoes?

There are many factors that can lead to hammertoe, but ill-fitting shoes, arthritis, injury, and family history are some of the most common concerns.

What Surgical Options Are Available?

A physical exam and x-rays are required prior to a hammertoe correction surgery. The first goal will be to determine if the hammertoe can be corrected by making changes to the soft tissue, or if a more extensive surgery to address the bones and joints is required.

A soft toe surgery is only available for limited toe deformity. During this procedure, a cut is made into the skin, allowing the tendon to release. Once released, the toe will relax and return to a more natural and pain-free position. Depending on the severity, the tendon may need to be reattached to a different area of the bone.

If the hammertoe is more advanced then resurfacing the bone (arthroplasty) or fusing the toe joints may be required; sometimes, both are required.

Arthroplasty: During arthroplasty, small portions of the bone are removed on each side, allowing the toe to uncurl.

Toe Joint Fusion: During a toe joint fusion, the end of the toe bone is removed, and the toe bones are repositioned. A pin may be required to keep the bones in their new position. The pin may be required short-term or long term.  

These are the most popular surgery options, but a personalized approach may be required.

Hammertoe Surgery Recovery

Recovery time is typically between 2-4 weeks. During this time, the goal will be to keep the stitches clean and dry and to minimize post-op swelling. Swelling will be most severe in the day and weeks following surgery, but may continue several months after surgery. You will be required to use crutches and wear special shoes. After surgery for your hammertoe treatment, your toe may be shorter or longer than it was previously.

To learn more about hammertoe correction options, reach out to Dr. Cory today at 480- 473-3668.