The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

What Is Hammer Toe Surgery REALLY Like… And Is It Worth It?

Posted by on Friday, November 8th, 2013

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Hammer toes are a very common cause of foot pain. “When conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgery is often a prudent course of action,” explains Dr. Ryan Minara of our NYC podiatrist office. “The surgery is able to correct the deformity and therefore help eliminate pain,” he adds

Is It Time For Hammertoe Surgery?

“In some cases, it might be necessary to use either temporary or permanent pins to keep the toe straight,” says Dr. Katherine Lai. The level of pain and extent to which the deformity interferes with daily life generally dictate whether surgery is necessary or not, the NY podiatrist adds. If you can no longer wear most of your shoes, there is a problem!

Hammer toe diagram
Image Source: orthoanswer.org

A British man recently chronicled his experience with hammer toes in Daily Mail article. He said the toe deformity didn’t hurt or bother him much at first. Yet, once he injured his knee and had to put more weight on the foot, he began to notice a worsening of symptoms. “It was soon bent all the time, so the knuckle rubbed on my shoes and gave me a painful corn and I had to wear roomier shoes and boots,” he explained.

Every six months, a podiatrist rubbed away hardened skin with a scalpel, but eventually he could only comfortably wear one pair of shoes. “My toe was so bent that the bottom no longer touched the floor,” he said. Now he knew it was time.

hammer toe deformity
Image Source: Hammertoe-Clawtoe.com

What Happens During Hammer Toe Surgery?

To straighten the toe, a surgeon cuts the tendon that is pulling the toe out of shape and fuses the joint with wires. Initially, the only option was to have wires sticking out of the ends of the toes for six weeks during healing. Nowadays, mini-tightrope procedures and new plug implants allow you a more comfortable recovery that allows you to walk in special shoes right after surgery. Twenty minutes under general anesthesia is all it takes to get the foot back into proper alignment. Most patients report an immediate end to pain and are able to go back to work the next day. Five months later, you should be able to wear whatever shoes you’d like.

Is Hammer Toe Surgery Worth It?

“I always tell my patients 3 things about hammertoe surgery,” says Dr. Nadia Levy. “First, the surgery is quick and the post-operative pain is usually not too bad. Second, the swelling and mild soreness associated with swelling is often the worst part and can make your shoes tight for many months ahead. Lastly, as long as you are flexible about shoes after the surgery and willing to be patient with your body to eliminate the swelling, I do believe surgery is worth it.”

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.