Lesser Toe Surgery
What to expect
Toes are straightened for many reasons. Commonly the toes are crooked, and we call this either a hammer toe, a claw toe, or a cross over toe. In order to straighten the toe or toes, the knuckle of the top of the toe is usually cut, and the toe is straightened by removing a small portion of the knuckle. In order to hold the toe straight following the surgery, a small pin (we call this a K-wire) is commonly inserted into the toe for about three to four weeks. Invariably the middle part of the toe is stiff following the surgery, but will bend where the toe joins the foot. There are different types of surgery to the toe specifically, some of which are called an arthrodesis (where the toe is intentionally stiffened), and the other an arthroplasty (where bone is removed from the knuckle, and a little movement may still be present). Frequently in order to straighten the toe, the part where the toe joins the metatarsal also requires surgery. Here the tendons have to be released, cut or lengthened to straighten the toe. Following surgery to toes, regardless of what exact type of surgery is performed, the toes are swollen and a little numb for a while. This swelling can persist for about 4 months, and frequently, the toes need to be massaged a few times a day to help with decreasing this swelling. There are many types of deformity of the toes, and with this there are also various grades of severity and this of course will influence the type of surgery performed as well as the recovery. If the toe surgery is performed without any additional surgery to the big toe (for example a bunion deformity), then the recovery may be a little quicker.
General Recovery Facts
- You can expect mild to moderate pain for a few days.
- You are allowed to walk on the foot the day after surgery.
- Many patients are however not able to walk on the foot because of pain.
- You may drive by about 4 days if it is your right foot, and 7 days if your left foot.
- A lot now depends on whether additional surgery is performed with the toes.
- There are often pins put into the toes, and are removed at 3-4 weeks.
- You may be able to get the foot wet while pins are in the foot, once incision is healed.
- You will be able to wear a sneaker type shoe at about 4 weeks.
- The toes will remain puffy and swollen for 3-4 months.
Before & After Pics
Toe Deformity - Brachymetatarsia
Lessor Toe Deformities
Hammer Toe / Claw Toe
Specific post-operative recovery
- Foot wrapped in bulky bandage and surgical Shoe.
- Pins may be sticking out of toes.
- Ice, elevate, take pain medication.
- Expect numbness in foot 12-24 hours then pain.
- Blood drainage through bandage expected.
- Do not change bandage.
- Start heel walking in surgical shoe only.
- Moderate pain – continue pain medication.
- Ice, elevate as much as possible.
- Protect pin site from impact.
- Continue heel walking in surgical shoe.
- May drive with caution in surgical shoe.
- Do not change dressing unless instructed.
- First follow-up in the office, X-rays taken.
- Dressing changed.
- Toes will be strapped if no pin is used.
- Dressing/Strapping changed as needed.
- Pin removed in office.
- Full weight bearing without surgical shoe.
- Massage of the toes important for one month.