By Ken Lefkowitz, DPM
Last week we covered bunion surgery, so today we’ll discuss another common podiatric procedure, hammertoe surgery. First of all, a hammertoe is a deformity that causes the toe to bend downward in the middle so it resembles a hammer. When padding the affected toe or changing footwear doesn’t work, surgery is the only option. The purpose of the operation is to relieve pain.
As is the case for bunion surgery, there are multiple different types of hammertoe surgeries depending on the flexibility of the hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe that can be straightened can receive a tendon transfer. This involves rerouting the tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top in order to pull the bent joint into the right position. For a fixed (or unflexible) hammertoe, the surgeon may use joint resection. During this type of procedure, an incision is made in the top of the toe and tendons and ligaments may be cut so the toe straightens. For it to straighten completely, the end of the bone is removed and sometimes pins are temporarily put in place. Fusion is another method of treating a fixed hammertoe. Ligaments, tendons, and bone ends are cut and then pins, screws, and other implants are used to keep the toe straight while the bone ends heal and fuse together.
Hammertoe surgery is considered an outpatient procedure because you can normally go home on the same day as the surgery. A normal recovery period is a few weeks, but it depends on what type of surgery was performed. Your podiatrist will ask you to keep your foot elevated at heart level as frequently as possible while the incision heals. Two to three weeks after the surgery, stitches may be removed. Until then, you will not be allowed to put your foot under water. In order to maintain toe flexibility and motion, you might even be asked to do exercises to stretch and move the toe.
If you have any questions relating to hammertoes, hammertoe surgery, or any other foot or ankle concerns, call Quality Foot Care at 215-230-9707. Make an appointment at our Doylestown office today!