Hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, causing it to resemble a hammer. Left untreated, hammertoes can become inflexible and painful, requiring surgery.
Hammertoe surgery can be done on an outpatient basis in the doctor's office or a surgery center using a local anesthetic, sometimes combined with sedation. The surgery takes about 15 minutes to perform. Up to four small incisions are made and the tendons are rebalanced around the toe so that it no longer curls. Patients usually can walk immediately after the surgery wearing a special surgical shoe. Minimal or no pain medication is needed following the surgery.
Icing and elevation of the foot is recommended during the first week following the procedure to prevent excessive swelling and promote healing. It is also important that the dressing be kept clean and dry to prevent infection. Two weeks after the surgery, the sutures are removed and a wide athletic shoe can replace the post-operative surgical shoe. Patients can then gradually increase their walking and other physical activities.