How Effective Is Hammertoe Surgery?

Surgery of any kind is risky, so it's understandable that people want to know how likely it is that a procedure will fix their problem before they go under the knife. Luckily for those suffering from hammertoes, surgical intervention has a high success rate, about 80 to 90 percent. However, there are two times when you may need to get surgery again. 

The Underlying Cause Continues to Be an Issue

Hammertoes have several causes. Poorly fitted shoes and high heels are the most common source of the problem because these exert pressure on the toes and make them deform over time. Disease is another common cause, though, with arthritis and diabetes being the main two contributors in this category.

Doctors typically spend a good amount of time before the surgery helping patients manage or eliminate the underlying cause to reduce the risk of needing another procedure down the line. For instance, they advise patients on changing the type of shoes they wear or help diabetics get their blood sugar under control.

Unfortunately, some underlying conditions continue to pose a problem simply because of disease progression. In cases where hammertoes are caused by arthritis, patients may have to return for a second surgery simply because their arthritis has worsened due to age despite their best efforts at controlling it.

Talk to your health care provider about the things you can do to manage the causes of your hammertoes to give your surgery the highest chances of success and avoid having to go under the knife again.

The Corrective Device Needs to Be Replaced

There are two types of hammertoe: flexible and fixed. Flexible hammertoe is usually treated by rearranging some of the tendons in the toe to help straighten it out. However, with fixed hammertoe, the joint becomes too rigid to move and must be removed and replaced with pins or similar hardware.

Over time, the device securing the toe may become loose, particularly if you suffer a foot injury. In these cases, you will need another operation to fix the problem. This may involve replacing the hardware or performing a different procedure that may offer better long-term results.

As mentioned previously, hammertoe surgery is highly successful and most people only need to return to the surgeon's table to fix other toes that become affected by the condition. Like any other surgery, though, it's important to discuss all the risks inherent in the procedure with your doctor to ensure you understand what you're getting into.

For more information about hammertoe surgery or other treatment options, contact your health care provider.