Hammer toe surgery
Last update: 10 April 2020
Hammer toe surgery
What is hammer toe?
Hammer toe affects a large number of men and women around the world. This toe deformation can be very problematic if nothing is done to treat it.
This deformation of the toes can be divided into 3 categories:
Hammer toes: this is the most serious of the three types of deformations. This condition appears when the joint above the toes protrudes so excessively that it causes friction against the shoe. This friction eventually causes significant pain while walking. It is essential to consult quickly to prevent this condition from worsening. Hammer toe surgery may then be required.
Claw toes: this is the 2nd most common deformation of the toes. It also causes pain on top of the toes, in addition to forming corns and a thickening of the toenail. It is a nuisance that requires rapid attention during a consultation. And surgery may be considered, depending on the individual case.
A good podiatrist must listen to you and understand your expectations. However, they will also have to explain that hammer toe surgery will not always make your toes as straight and flexible as before.
Some deformations progress so much that the results can vary. In certain very rare cases, some more draconian measures may be suggested, such as amputation of the toe.
When should a patient elect to seek surgery for hammer toe?
How can we recognize possible biomechanical complications and other special cases?
The podiatrist has been specially trained for this purpose! Consulting a podiatrist helps to avoid future complications with your feet and prevent certain problems.
How do you choose the right foot surgeon?
Favour a surgeon with experience
Make sure they can offer you personalized surgical care
Opt for a humane approach
If you have an urgent need for foot care, your podiatrist must be readily available to provide care. That’s why it is important to choose a professional who is available when you need help.
PiedRéseau clinics have the podiatrists who meet all these criteria!
How do we evaluate whether a patient requires surgery for hammer toes?
Your PiedRéseau clinics enable you to seek treatment across Québec in one of its affiliate clinics. A local podiatrist will evaluate you, provide a summary of your condition and will communicate with a podiatric surgeon as required.
The patient’s medical history is important for proper treatment
In order to perform proper hammer toe surgery, the podiatrist will need to evaluate the available movement in your foot joint. This will give them an idea of what to expect. The podiatrist will be able to determine if the foot mobility can be maintained as it is.
X-ray evaluation of the deformation
An initial bone evaluation will be conducted. This is another essential step in establishing your hammer toe surgical plan. This X-ray allows you to reposition the joints of your toes and check your foot’s bone alignment.
A second X-ray is then taken during or after the operation to observe the results and make any relevant decisions.
Conservative treatment methods
Before starting the process for hammer toe surgery, it is important to identify other alternative methods that could be tried (and check those that have already been tested).
These conservative treatment methods may include:
- Wearing wide, flexible footwear
- Wearing orthotic devices
- Various exercises to increase joint flexibility
- Using a gel cushion and gel orthotics around the toes
However, some cases can only be resolved by surgery.
Why choose surgery performed by a podiatrist?
The podiatrist has received in-depth training to care for your feet and conduct a biomechanical evaluation. They are the professional of choice to perform specialized procedures on your feet.
Below are several other advantages offered by your podiatrist:
- Foot care management from A to Z
- Extensive knowledge to return maximum autonomy to your foot
- Personalized follow-up and sound advice
Procedures for straightening hammer toes
The goal of this procedure is to restore toe balance without restricting movement. This is an interesting choice for an operation if your toes are still flexible. However, the risk of recurrence is higher.
Arthrodesis allows the toes to be straightened. The podiatrist fuses the deformed joint to strengthen your foot. This procedure stabilizes your toe and reduces the risk of recurrence to almost zero.
Hammer toe amputation
Sometimes the most serious situations require amputation of the toe. This is naturally a last resort. However, this procedure allows for quick and complete healing. If your toes are at risk of ulceration or are too severely deformed, this may be an option to be considered.
Chronological steps of surgery
Surgical preparation begins several weeks before the surgery:
- You must obtain medical clearance from your doctor.
- You may have to take certain antibiotics. Blood samples can also be taken.
- Plan on a lot of rest time following hammer to surgery.
- You must be accompanied by someone for the surgery, and they must be available to take you home and stay with you for 24 to 48 hours.
- Your feet must be properly cleaned.
- It may be necessary to fast for 12 hours before surgery.
The day of your surgery
Below is the sequence of your operation:
- If prescribed, you must take any pre-surgery medication as per the instructions of your podiatric surgeon.
- The surgical team cares for you and ensures you are comfortable.
Things to know to ensure proper healing:
- It is normal to feel the effects of the anaesthesia after your operation.
- Pain medication must be taken on a regular basis.
- You will return home the same day as the operation (don’t forget to bring someone with you to assist you!).
- Keep your leg elevated and apply an ice pack to reduce any swelling.
- You must always keep your foot dry.
Follow-up visits and home care
Hammer toe surgery requires special care at home. The clinic’s team will give you a personalized home care plan to follow. A follow-up appointment will then be scheduled with your surgeon within a week to monitor your progress.
Normally, stitches last from 10 to 21 days.
What is the convalescence period for hammer toe surgery?
When will I be able to recommence my daily activities?
It takes about 2 months to return to your normal lifestyle. It all depends on the procedure performed and the speed of healing. Often you can practise walking beforehand with an adapted shoe.
Importance of following your surgical recommendations to the letter
One thing is important to remember, it is necessary to follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. Not doing so could jeopardize your healing process and create numerous complications.
Post-surgical plantar orthotics
Hammer toes often develop on feet with common biomechanical deficiencies. Wearing foot orthotics is a solution often adopted to correct these problems.
Orthotics promote your foot’s healing, reduce the risk of recurrence and help avoid new surgery in future.