Hammertoe surgery may be a treatment option if you have a severe hammertoe. A hammertoe is a contracture of the toe due to a muscle imbalance between the tendons on the top of the toe and the tendons on the bottom of the toe. There are two types of hammertoes, a flexible hammertoe and a rigid hammertoe.
Flexible hammertoes are less serious because they can be diagnosed and treated while still in the developmental stage. Flexible hammertoes are still moveable at the joint.
Rigid hammertoes are more serious and can be seen in patients with severe arthritis. In rigid hammertoes the tendons have become tight and the joint misaligned and immobile making surgery the course of treatment.
With hammertoe surgery there are several types of surgical options depending on the location and extent of the problem. The first option is arthroplasty. With arthroplasty, a portion of the joint is removed and the toe is straightened.
The second surgical option is fusion. With fusion surgery, the cartilage between the two toe bones is removed and the bones are fused to form one longer bone.
The third surgical treatment option is to have an implant put in the toe. With this surgery a portion of the bone is removed and replaced with an implant.
After hammertoe surgery some swelling, stiffness and limited mobility can be expected for as long as eight to twelve weeks. To help reduce swelling it is important to keep the foot elevated and apply ice. Most physicians will also recommend that a splint or surgical shoe be worn for the first two or three weeks after surgery. This will help to protect the foot and help to dispense body weight allowing the body to heel.
Some potential complications from hammertoe surgery are infection, swelling and possibly deviation of the toe. If a lot of bone is removed the toe may be a bit floppy. This will last for about seven weeks but generally will not be permanent.
Hammertoe surgery is one of the most successful procedures for surgeons today. Over 300,000 hammertoe surgeries are performed each year with few complications. Most patients are able to resume their daily activities without significant interference.