Claw toe and hammer toe are deformities that happen when the tendons (guiders) that move the toes get too tight or out of balance. The affected toe can rub on other toes and on the inside of your shoe, causing pressure and pain.
Inflammatory arthritis, (swelling, pain, stiffness in joints), such as rheumatoid arthritis, can damage the toe joints and this may make them come out of position (dislocate).
Putting padding between your toes and strapping them in place can help to stop pain caused by the toes rubbing. Exercises to stretch your toe joints into a flatter position may help.
Custom-made insoles for your shoes will help to take the pressure off any painful areas. Special shoes that are wider and deeper than normal can stop your toes rubbing. However if your pain persists your consultant may recommend an surgery.
What happens during toe surgery?
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. Be sure and discuss this with your surgeon during your pre-op assessment.
The type of surgery performed will depend on the problem with your toes and may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone.
Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny screws.
Going home following toe surgery
You should be able to go home the day of your surgery. You will be given medication for pain relief. You may need to wear a surgical shoe with an open toe for several weeks following your operation. You may need to use crutches to help you avoid putting weight on your toes.
For the first week of your recovery you will need to spend most of your time with your leg raised to help control swelling. Be sure and continue to take any pain medication.
It can take six weeks or longer before the swelling has gone down enough for you to wear a normal soft shoe.
Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following toe surgery.
As with any surgery there can be complications:
- Infection in the surgical wound
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clots
- Difficulty passing urine
Specific complications of toe surgery:
- Damage to nerves
- Damage to blood vessels
- Problems with bone healing
- Loss of movement in the toes
- Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
- Pain in the ball of the foot
- Recurrent deformity