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Hammer Toe Surgery and Treatment FAQs

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Do you have hammer toe? This common podiatric problem can cause swelling, redness, or make it difficult to straighten the affected toe. If your doctor has already diagnosed you with this disorder, take a look at the top treatment and hammer toe surgery questions patients have answered.

Should You Treat Hammer Toe?

While not every hammer toe diagnosis will require surgery, this condition does require some type of treatment. Hammer toe can progress from a mild muscle-related deformity to a more serious, and painful, condition. To reduce the long-term risks (such as difficulty walking) and eliminate daily discomfort, treat hammer toe promptly. A podiatrist can examine your foot, order imaging tests, and help you to better understand the options that best meet your individual needs.

Is Surgery the First Treatment Option?

Early-stage hammer toe may not require surgery. If you catch the condition before it progresses, the podiatrist may recommend other types of treatments. A change in footwear is an easy way to prevent the problem from escalating. Narrow, tight shoes and high heels often make hammer toe worse. Wider, lower-heeled shoes may put an end to your podiatric problem or reduce the risk of future issues.

Along with a change in footwear, your doctor may recommend exercises. These can help you to stretch and strengthen the affected foot muscles. If you still have pain, shoe inserts, cushions, or unmedicated corn pads may help to alleviate some of the discomfort.

What Are the Surgical Options?

When footwear changes, exercise, and other similar treatments don't work, or the hammer toe has already progressed past the point of at-home or over-the-counter remedies, you may need surgery. There are three primary types of surgical procedures for hammer toe. These include tendon lengthening, tendon transfer, and joint fusion. The type of surgery you need depends on the severity of the hammer toe.

Is Hammer Toe Surgery an Outpatient Procedure?

Hammer toe is typically corrected in an outpatient procedure. This means you won't need to stay overnight in the hospital after your surgery. Even though you won't need to stay in the hospital, this type of surgery may require anesthesia. Sedation allows you to sleep through the procedure, eliminating surgical pain.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Surgery?

The recovery time depends on several factors, such as the type of surgery (lengthening, transfer, or fusion), your overall health, and your body's ability to heal. In general, you can expect recovery to take at least a few weeks.