Hammertoe surgery corrects a foot deformity in which the first joint on one or more of the four small toes is bent. During surgery, the first joint of the toe is straightened to correct the deformity and relieve the symptoms commonly associated with hammertoe including pain and inflammation. Hammertoe surgery may be performed when other treatments are unable to provide sufficient relief of symptoms. Surgery is usually offered to individuals whose hammertoe causes them severe pain and leaves them unable to fit into shoes. By straightening the toe, surgery can correct the deformity and relieve pain and swelling that is often associated with the condition.
There are a few different surgical procedures that can be performed to correct hammertoe depending on the severity of the condition and the needs of the patient. These include tendon transfer, digital arthroplasty, and digital arthrodesis. Each procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia.
- Tendon transfer surgery involves rerouting the tendon. In this procedure, the tendon underneath the toe is moved on top of the toe so that it pulls the toe down.
- Digital arthroplasty involves removing part of the bone in the first joint of the affected toe. This procedure will reduce the prominence of the joint, but will still allow the toe to move.
- Digital arthrodesis involves removing the whole joint and fusing the two bones together. In some cases, a pin is used to hold the toe in place while it heals. Once it has healed, the toe will remain rigid and will not bend.
In some cases, a tendon that is too short might be contributing to the deformity. When this occurs, an additional procedure can be performed in conjunction with one of the surgeries mentioned above in order to lengthen the tendon and loosen the joint behind the affected toe so the toe can lie flat.