Hammer Toe Correction (PIP Joint Arthroplasty)

This minimally-invasive outpatient procedure corrects hammer toe, a toe deformity that causes the toe to become fixed in a bent position.

What You Need To Know About Hammer Toe Correction

What is Hammer Toe Correction?

A hammer toe is an abnormality of the second, third, or fourth toe that bends the middle joint into a "C" shape position. Proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint arthroplasty, or hammer toe correction, is the most common surgical procedure to correct a hammer toe.

A PIP joint arthroplasty uses bone fusion to alleviate pain and correct the hammer toe. During this procedure, a surgeon cuts affected ligaments and tendons to strengthen the toe. Then the ends of the two bones affected by the problematic joint are cut to straighten the crooked toe. The fusion includes the use of pins and screws to bind together the bones.

Orthotics, exercises, or simple lifestyle changes may help alleviate pain from the stiffened toe. Only consider surgery after all non-surgical options have been attempted.

Getting the care you need starts with an appointment with one of the expert physicians at the Foot & Ankle Center. Book your Resurgens Orthopaedics appointment now!

Why is a Hammer Toe Correction Procedure Performed?

Irregular toe positioning can cause corns, calluses, and create substantial discomfort when wearing shoes. Surgery can help alleviate pain when a hammer toe becomes fixed, immobile, and painful.

Hammer toe correction surgery straightens the affected joint by trimming ligaments, tendons, and bone. This procedure frees the joint and allows the affected toe to straighten out. While joint fusion straightens out the toe, it may limit the future flexibility of the toe.

How to Prepare for a Hammer Toe Correction Surgery

Before the procedure, your doctor will examine your blood work and medical history. They will complete a routine physical assessment to determine the extent of your condition. Be prepared to experience some mild irritation as your doctor may need to aggravate your condition.

After a physical examination, your doctor may recommend further diagnostic testing. Imaging screening helps narrow down any potential causes for your condition. Understanding the cause and extent of your hammer toe is crucial in developing your treatment plan.

What Happens During a Hammer Toe Correction Procedure?

During a hammer toe correction procedure, your surgeon creates a small incision on the upper side of the affected toe to access the phalanges and the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. Then your surgeon uses a cutting instrument to carefully remove the head of the proximal phalanx at the PIP joint.

By shortening this bone, the surgeon relieves pressure on the joint, creating more space so that the bones can be aligned properly. The surgeon carefully straightens the toe, moving the bones into a relaxed and natural position. Once the bones have been correctly aligned, the surgeon inserts a fixation device or pin into the toe. This holds the bones in place while the joint heals. Scar tissue will form between the phalanges during the healing process, stabilizing the joint. Pins will remain in place following the procedure to help the bones grow together. The pins are removed once the joint has adequately fused.

As you are experiencing the tranquil effects of anesthesia, the outpatient procedure does not hurt, and you will be able to go home the same day. Before your procedure, make sure you arrange for transportation from the hospital. At home, a caregiver may be necessary to aid in your recovery for one to two days following the surgery. If possible, make accommodations so you will not have to go upstairs during recovery.

Are There Risks Associated with a Hammer toe Correction Surgery?

With any surgical procedure, common complications include infection, nerve damage, blood clot formation, and a poor reaction to anesthesia.

One possible difficulty specific to a hammer toe correction is the small chance that the hammer toe curls up and returns following the procedure. However, it is rare that the bones do not adequately and properly heal after fusion.

Also, the toe may become unstable due to ligament and tendon manipulation. Discuss complications with your orthopaedic surgeon for a more in-depth summary of possible complications.

Post-Hammer Toe Correction Surgery and Recovery

A hammer toe will usually take a few weeks to heal following surgery. Due to prolonged swelling, your doctor may prescribe special shoes to help you recover.

It is crucial to keep weight off the affected foot for several weeks to promote proper healing. Keeping weight off may require the use of crutches or a walker. You should not operate a vehicle and elevate the foot as much as possible for several weeks to reduce swelling and encourage healing.

Your doctor will remove stitches after two to three weeks following the surgery along with the pins. Patients should not put their feet underwater until your surgeon has removed your stitches and pins. Daily exercises and stretches at home will also help promote recovery and flexibility on the operated foot.

Schedule a consultation with a physician to determine the best solution for your hammer toe.

Learn more about the Foot & Ankle Center at Resurgens Orthopaedics.

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