Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe Surgery

In severe cases, toe deformities may require surgery.

Arthroplasty is a minor surgical procedure that may be used to treat claw toes, mallet toes or hammertoes. In this procedure, the podiatrist or podiatric surgeon makes an incision along the toe and trims the head of the proximal phalanx, allowing the toe to straighten.

If the affected toe does not straighten sufficiently after arthroplasty, a number of progressive procedures may be used to achieve the desired result. If these procedures are not successful, it is likely that the deformity has been present for so long that the joint can no longer function properly. In this case, a procedure called arthrodesis may restore normal mobility.

Arthrodesis involves fusing two bones together, typically the proximal and middle phalanges. The surgeon removes the cartilage from the base of the middle phalanx, the bones are fixed together with a removable pin, and they eventually fuse together.

Following surgery to treat toe deformities, patients must stay off their feet for several weeks. Complications include infection, numbness in the toe, and failure of the procedure that requires additional surgery.

Publication Review By: Hai-En Peng, D.P.M.

Published: 31 Dec 1999

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015