A hammer toe is a toe that stays in a curled or flexed position. It can be caused by a muscle imbalance, arthritis, or shoes that do not fit well.
Hammer toe can occur in more than one toe.
Several kinds of surgery can repair hammer toe. Your bone or foot doctor will recommend the kind that will work best for you. Some of the surgeries include:
After surgery, you may have surgical pins or a wire (Kirschner, or K-wire) to hold the toe bones in place while your toe heals.
When hammer toe is starting to develop, you may still be able to straighten your toe. Over time, your toe may get stuck in a bent position and you can no longer straighten it. When this happens, painful, hard corns (thick, callused skin) can build up on the top and bottom of your toe and rub against your shoe.
Hammer toe surgery is not done just to make your toe look better. Consider surgery if your hammer toe is stuck in a flexed position and is causing:
Surgery may not be advised if:
Risks of hammer toe surgery are:
Always tell your doctor or nurse what medicines you are taking, even medicines, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon will ask you to see the doctor who treats you for these conditions.
Most people go home the same day they have hammer toe surgery. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to take care of yourself at home after surgery.
Flexion contracture of the toe
Murphy A. Lesser toe abnormalities. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 83.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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