Surgery is not always needed for hammertoes. It is usually the last treatment option after all other options have not worked to provide relief. There are a few things that are considered when discussing surgery with a patient: how severe the hammer toe is, your age, activity level, how many toes the surgery would involve, and what type of shoes you would like to wear.
There are at least three types of surgeries that can be done to correct hammertoes; flexor tenotomy, arthroplasty and arthrodesis.
A flexor tenotomy is a “soft tissue” procedure (does not involve bone). Therefore when only one or two hammer toes are corrected it can often be performed in the office under local anesthesia. Fortunately, this procedure heals quickly and when performed in the correct situation gives great results.
Arthroplasty is where a small part of the bone is removed from the joint that is affected.
Arthrodesis is done in more severe cases, when the toe is really rigid, or when multiple toes are involved. It is when a small joint in the toe is fused and this helps straighten the toe. It usually involves some type of device, such as a pin, to help hold the toe straight during the healing process.
There are times where a patient may have another procedure done at the same time. These may include bunions or other deformities. The length of healing time will depend on how severe the hammertoe, how many toes involved, and if any other procedures are done at the same time.