Hammertoe Repair

This surgery involves correcting a toe that is bent downward at the first toe joint. It helps straighten the toe and decrease pain.

This surgery involves correcting a toe that is bent downward at the first toe joint. It helps straighten the toe and decrease pain.

A hammer toe is an abnormal bending of a toe. This causes the toe to look like a hammer, or upside down “V”.

  • The bending (also known as a contracture) happens when there is a shortening of the tendons or muscles in the toe. It can happen to any toe, but usually happens to the second through fifth toes.
  • Other toe problems are often present at the same time as a hammer toe. For example, corns often develop on the top of the hammer toe, where it rubs against a shoe.

There are two different of hammer toe.

  • A flexible hammer toe is when the affected toe joint is still moveable.
  • A rigid Hammer Toe is when the affected toe joint is no longer moveable, so the toe cannot be straightened.

When surgery is recommended to repair a hammer toe, the type of surgery will depend on the severity of the hammer toe. Some examples are:

  • For a flexible hammer toe a tendon transfer may be performed. During this surgery, a tendon is moved from the bottom of the toe to the part of the toe that is deformed. This allows the toe to be straightened.
  • A rigid hammer toe may be fixed by cutting the ligament or tendon. Pins are then placed to hold the toe straight while it heals. The pins are removed three to four weeks after surgery.
  • A rigid hammer toe may need more extensive surgery. Sometimes a joint resection and joining of the bones is needed to keep the toe straight. Pins or screws are used to keep the toe straight while it heals.

People with a family history of hammer toes have an increased chance of developing them. Other factors that increase the risk of hammer toe(s) include:

  • Arthritis
  • Foot injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too small or have high-heels

Hammer toes can cause:

  • Pain, swelling, redness and limited movement of the affected toe
  • Corns on the top of the joint that is bent
  • Pain in the ball of the foot at the base of the affected toe

Contact your healthcare provider if you have a hammer toe causing you the above symptoms. Some ways to prevent the complications associated with a hammer toe include:

  • Using shoe padding or shields where the toe is rubbing on the shoe
  • Wearing shoes that are wide and have plenty of room
  • Avoiding heels more than two inches tall
  • Taking pain medication as recommended by your healthcare provider

If nonsurgical measures are not effective, a hammer toe repair may be recommended. The surgery can be performed by a foot doctor (podiatrist) or a foot and ankle surgeon.

If a hammer toe repair is recommended, prior to surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery and get clear instructions on what you need to do. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the surgery
  • Instructions on getting around with a cane, walker or crutches

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

During your surgery, you will receive medication to keep you comfortable and pain free.

  • A hammer toe repair can often be done with an ankle block, which only numbs your foot.
  • In certain circumstances, general anesthesia (where you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear, or feel anything) or spinal anesthesia (which numbs you from the waist down) may be used.

After surgery, expect some pain and tenderness at the site. Call your healthcare provider if you experience uncontrolled bleeding, more pain than anticipated, increased redness or swelling, discharge from the wound, fever, warmth around the incision or red streaks.

  • Depending on the type of surgery, your healthcare provider may limit your activity for a few weeks.
  • You will need to elevate your foot, at least to the level of your heart, after surgery.
  • You may need to wear a special shoe and use crutches while your foot is healing.
  • You may need to avoid certain types of shoes, such as high heels.
  • Pain medication and help at home will be needed while you complete your recovery.

If your healthcare provider recommends a hammer toe repair, ask the following questions.

  • Why do you think I need a hammer toe repair? What do you expect will happen if I do not have a hammer toe repair?
  • What other treatment options are there? What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Will my hammer toe return?
  • How can I prevent future hammer toes?
  • What are the possible complications?
  • How will I feel after the surgery?
  • Will I have to modify my activity? What precautions do I need to take?
  • After surgery, what symptoms should I be concerned about?
  • Prior to discharge, you should understand all home care instructions. This includes symptoms to report before your next appointment, medications and their side effects, and follow-up plans. Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home while you recover.

    Source UHC.com

    Also known as:

    Repair Hammertoe
    Repair Hammer Toe
    Hammertoe Repair
    Hammer Toe
    Foot Surgery

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