Hammer Toe Correction
DefinitionHammer toe occurs when there is a shortening of the tendon that controls toe movement. This causes the middle joint of the toe to be bent upward and the outer joint downwards. The misshapen toe resembles a hammer. A hammer toe correction is done to correct a toe deformity called a hammer toe .
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Reasons for ProcedureA hammertoe correction is considered when:
- Other treatments have failed to bring about results
- The affected toe has assumed an awkward position and is causing pain
- The deformity makes walking difficult
- The position of the toe causes breakdown of skin. This can increase the risk of developing a bone infection.
Possible ComplicationsComplications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have the correction, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Excessive swelling, although the toe will normally be swollen for 4-8 weeks following surgery
- Anesthesia-related problems
- Recurrence of hammer toe
- Nerve or blood vessel injury to the toe
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour doctor will likely do the following:
- Physical exam
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
- Arrange for help at home after the procedure.
- Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to remove.
AnesthesiaLocal anesthesia is often used. It will numb the area. Spinal anesthesia may also be used. This anesthesia will make your lower body numb.
Description of the ProcedureSeveral surgical options are available for hammer toe correction. Some corrections can be made with changes to soft tissue. Others need to be made to the bone or joint.Soft TissueThis is usually best in patients under 30, with limited toe deformity. A cut is made in the skin and the tendon is released. Sometimes it is reattached to a different area of the bone. The changes in soft tissue will allow the toe to relax and eliminate the deformity.BoneTwo common methods of hammer toe correction on the bones themselves are joint arthroplasty and joint fusion. The type of procedure used depends on the deformity. A combination of procedures may be needed. In both cases, a cut in the skin is made over the toe joint.During an arthroplasty, part of the bones on both sides of the middle toe joint may be removed. This will allow the toe to uncurl.During a fusion, the ends of the toe bones are removed. The bones are then repositioned. The repositioning is usually held together with a pin placed within the bone. The pin may be removed after 3-4 weeks. Other changes to the anatomy of the foot due to the hammer toe may also be corrected at this time.The incision will be closed with stitches. Dressings will be applied to hold the toe in proper position.
How Long Will It Take?This depends on the procedure and the number of toes corrected.
Will It Hurt?Anesthesia prevents pain during the surgery. You will be given medication to manage pain after the surgery.
Post-procedure CareAt the HospitalRight after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include pain medications. During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incisions
- Use crutches or wear a special open-toed, wooden-soled shoe, as directed by your doctor.
- Follow your doctor's instructions.