A toe which is bent or clawed at one of its joints is called a hammertoe. These toes are painful because they rub on the inside of your shoe and irritate the skin; many times creating a callus and sometimes an ulcer (hole in the skin). Hammertoe correction is one of the most common surgeries we perform.
We will perform your surgery at a hospital or surgi-center and, depending on your health and age; you may be required to have preoperative blood work and testing. Generally the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you will be able to go home the same day as your surgery. An anesthesiologist will meet with you before your surgery and review your health history to determine the best method of anesthesia for your particular case. Many times they will decide to use MAC anesthesia for this type surgery. This is a mild sedative which allows us to inject the local anesthetic into the surgical site without you feeling pain. Only after we have determined the area to be anesthetized (numb) will we begin surgery.
An incision is made over the involved joint and the dorsal tendon is cut and retracted away from the surgical site. The toe joint which is dislocated is cut with a saw and removed allowing the once crooked toe to be positioned straight. Many times it is held together with thin wire or a small screw which maintains the straightness as the toe heals. Often, these devices are removed when healing has completed. The soft tissue and skin will be closed with sutures and a soft dressing is applied to the foot before you are taken to the recovery room.
In the recovery room you will be given a surgical shoe to wear on the foot during your convalescence and sometimes crutches are dispensed to help keep weight off of the foot during your recovery. Sutures are usually removed two weeks after surgery and this is followed by a gradual return to wearing a soft sneaker or shoe. Depending on the severity of your deformity and the amount of surgical correction needed, physical therapy may be prescribed as part of your recovery.