When conservative treatments such as depth style shoes or different padding options fail, then surgery to repair and straighten hammertoes can be performed to eliminate pain and deformity.

What is Hammertoe Surgery?

Typically, your physician will make a small incision on top of your painful hammertoe, surgically adjust the bone and tendons of the toe to straighten it, and implant a small screw to hold the toe in its new straightened position. The screw does not stick outside of the skin, rarely needs to be removed, and permanently holds the toe straight so your hammertoe does not return.

Who Should Have a Hammertoe Surgery?

If your hammertoe is still at a more flexible stage, conservative treatments may be recommended to reduce pain and discomfort. With early action on conservative treatments, you are less likely to experience rigid hammertoes that need surgery in the future. Conservative treatment options for flexible hammertoe’s include:

  • wearing shoes with plenty of room in the toes
  • taking over-the-counter pain medication
  • physical therapy exercises such as stretching.

Once your hammertoes become rigid and unable to move, surgery is usually recommended as the best option for treating the problem. Rigid hammertoes won’t return to their normal shape without surgery, can lead to pain and may limit your activities.

How Well Does Hammertoe Surgery Work?

Hammertoe surgery has a fairly typical surgical success rate of about 90 percent. If your hammertoe fails to respond to exercise, physical therapy and footwear modifications, then surgery is often preferable to living with chronic pain and deformity so that you may return to normal shoe gear and activity.

What Can I Expect When I Have a Hammertoe Surgery?

You may need a pre-surgical physical to make any necessary accommodations based on your health history. When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll speak to your surgeon and anesthesiologist who will decide the best type of anesthesia you will receive for your hammertoe surgery.

You should plan to go home the same day, and you will need to have someone drive you home. In most instances, you will be able to walk and be up and around to take care of yourself in a surgical shoe or cast boot, but you will need to take it easy and limit your movements.

For office workers, you can probably return to work after just a few days. Full recovery where you can run, carry heavy items or otherwise stress your foot will take about 6-8 weeks.