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Houston podiatrist discusses surgical correction of a hammer toeA #hammertoe is a very common deformity. While surgery is not always necessary, some people have persistent pain that makes surgical correction the best choice for them. My name is Dr. Andrew Schneider, and I'm a podiatrist in Houston, Texas. Hammer toes are commonly seen in all podiatry offices. They often become painful. That's why it's best to address them before they become painful or problematic. 

A hammer toe is a foot deformity when the toe buckles up at the joints of the toe, giving it a hammered appearance. A hammer toe often becomes painful. This pain can be because of the pressure of the toe against the shoe. It may be because of the pressure at the joint between the foot and the toe. There also may be painful corns, soft corns, or calluses that form because of the pressure. Sometimes, non-surgical treatment of a hammer toe relieves the pain and solves the problem. Unfortunately, there are some people who continue to have pain and need a more permanent correction for the toe. This is accomplished with surgical procedures. 

When I plan for your #HammertoeSurgery, I focus on the joints that are contracted. In all cases, a small amount of bone is removed from the joint. This allows the joint to decompress and the toe can straighten out. If more than one joint is contracted such as in a #clawtoe, I may end up working on both joints of the toe. If there's a contracture where the toe meets the foot, and the toe is popping up at the base, I perform an additional procedure that releases the soft tissue that's become contracted over time. A procedure like that doesn't change the post-operative course or recovery whatsoever. 

In many cases, the procedure I described takes care of the problem. If the hammer toe is rigid, where I can't straighten the toe out when I pull on it, a better choice would be to fuse the toe. It would stop the toe from bending at the problematic joint, but the function of the toe will be unaffected. This can be accomplished with using a pin that's pulled in several weeks in the office. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt. I could also sometimes use an implant that stays in the toe. That's really dependent on if your insurance plan will cover it. 

When the toe is rotated, as we often see in the fourth and fifth toes, I want to make sure the toe is rotated back into a proper position. To do this, I use a special incision designed to derotate the toes when it's closed. It works well to get the toes back into alignment. 

You'll have a bandage on your foot after surgery. In most cases, you'll be able to bear weight in a surgical shoe. That said, it's essential that you keep your foot elevated for the first several days to protect against swelling. Sutures typically stay in the toe for two to three weeks. If there's a pin in your toe, it comes out at three to four weeks. You're able to return to shoes shortly after, depending on how much your toe and foot is swollen. You'll usually be back to full activity in eight to 12 weeks after the surgery.