If your symptoms are mild, changing shoes may be all the treatment you need. Using a splint or pad to hold your toes straight may also help or cushioning corns and calluses with felt padding. If your symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed. The type of procedure often depends on whether your toe joints are flexible or rigid.
To release a buckled joint, the tight tendon (often the bottom one) is cut and repositioned.
A piece of bone may be removed to help straighten a rigid toe. Two surgical procedures involve arthroplasty and fusion. With arthroplasty, part of the curled joint is cut away. The “gap” fills in with fibrous tissue. With fusion, the joint cartilage is removed. The toe bones heal as one longer bone. With either surgery, a pin may be used to hold the remaining bone in position during healing.
Almost all hammer-toe surgeries are out-patient procedures. In fact, you may even be able to bear weight on your foot by the time you go home. For best results, however, you may need to wear a surgical shoe for several weeks.
Your foot will be bandaged after surgery, and you may need to wear a surgical shoe to support the foot during healing. Your doctor may recommend a special dressing to limit swelling. Elevation and ice can also help. For best results, raise your foot about heart level and apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes. Protect your skin by placing a towel between the ice pack and your skin.
Help make surgery a success by wearing shoes that fit your feet. Shoes should be long enough and wide enough to keep all your toes comfortable.