The main goal of hammertoe surgery is to re-align the crooked toe into an improved anatomic alignment. This is usually done by creating a surgical break at the affected knuckle or joint. Often it is necessary to hold the correction with an internal pin or screw. If a pin is used, it may be protruding out the end of the toe for a temporary period of time. This allows your surgeon to track healing progress, and to easily remove it when it’s not needed any longer.
Typical hammertoe surgery is done in an outpatient surgical facility with IV conscious sedation.
After surgery, walking is usually allowed immediately in a protective post-operative shoe. This is used mostly to accommodate for the thick bandaging and any pins that may be visible. Skin sutures are removed 2 weeks after surgery. Once the sutures are removed, normal bathing of the foot is allowed, unless there is an external pin. If there is a pin, the foot needs to be kept clean and dry for the duration of healing in order to avoid a pin-track infection.
Activity after surgery will be limited, and tenderness in the ball-of-foot and toe is expected. Your walking will be slowed down for several weeks. Impact-style activity like walking or running is usually not comfortable until closer to 6-12 weeks post-op. Swelling of the toes is a common finding after surgery and can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to fully resolve.
Driving is allowed almost immediately if the surgery is LEFT-SIDED, and the car is an automatic. Driving for RIGHT-SIDED feet will take anywhere from 2-6 weeks, and will depend on the individual. It is not recommended to drive while wearing the post-op shoe.
Appropriate long-term expectations from having your hammertoe corrected include better fitting inside shoegear and less knuckle pain. Often the joint will be permanently stiff from having been fully or partially fused in order to straighten the crooked knuckle. Recurrences can happen, but are rare.