Hammertoe Surgery: Straightening Toes That Turn Down


Hammertoes occur due to a muscle imbalance, often resulting from shoes that crowd your toes. When toes are squished, their middle joints are forced upward and the tips of toes pushed down. The longer this goes on, the more likely your toe (usually the second, third or fourth) will get stuck in this abnormal position over time, causing difficulty wearing shoes, formation of corns, and pain (not to mention embarrassment). While there are stretches, splints, and techniques like buddy taping and using protective padding to help, sometimes these conservative measures are just not enough to provide relief, or were started too late in the deformity’s progression to actually make a difference. When this is the case, and hammertoes become more and more rigid, harder and harder to straighten, and just plain stuck, surgery is your only option to straighten things out!

Correcting Curled Toes

Surgery to repair hammertoes is not as complicated as you may think. In fact, it is done right in our office as an outpatient procedure, typically lasting less than a half hour! Of course, this depends upon the number of hammertoes that need to be addressed, the severity of the problem, and which procedure is performed. There are three main types of hammertoe surgery:

Tendon Transfer – this can only be done if the toe has retained some flexibility. The toe’s tendon is rerouted from the bottom to the top to help correct the bend and straighten the toe.

Joint Resection – tiny incisions are made to reach the ligaments and tendons in the toe, which are cut and readjusted to hold the toe in its proper position. Often, these are held in place with metal pins attached the end of the bone that are removed following the healing process.

Fusion – in this procedure, the bones that make up the affected joint need to be cut and readjusted along with the tendons and ligaments. They are then held in place by screws or pins so that they fuse together when healed.

Recovering from Hammertoe Surgery

Just as the procedure itself goes quickly, so too does the average recovery time. You can expect to recover within a few weeks, but will need to rest and elevate your foot during this time. You will also need to wear a special boot to protect your toe and help you keep weight off it. Pain will subside soon after your operation, however you may experience swelling throughout the healing process. Once your hammertoe is no longer stuck in its abnormal position, be sure to keep things that way by choosing shoes that don’t squish your toes!

Hammertoes are Progressive — Don’t Delay!

If you have a hammertoe, and conservative treatments are not seeming to set things straight, call us to schedule a consultation. We will discuss your surgical options, help you determine if hammertoe surgery is right for you, and if so, decide which procedure is best. Dial (609) 924-8333 to contact our Princeton office, or call (908) 687-5757 to reach our Roselle Park location. Don’t let hammertoes go untreated – they will only get worse. Avoid future problems by calling us today.