Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Surgery for Hammer Toe: Before Your Surgery
Facebook Tweet Share

Main Content

Surgery for Hammer Toe: Before Your Surgery

Hammer toe

What is surgery for hammer toe?

Hammer toe surgery straightens a curled toe that causes problems and does not get better with other treatment. Your doctor will make one or more small cuts on your deformed toe joint. These cuts are called incisions. Your doctor will make them to release the tendons that are holding your toe. Then the doctor may remove pieces of bone. Your toe may be held in place, such as with a pin or wire. The pin or wire may stay in your toe, or it may be removed after about 3 to 6 weeks. Sometimes a pin is placed so that it sticks out the end of your toe. Then it can be removed without another surgery.

Most people can go home right after this surgery. You may be able to go back to your normal routine within 3 to 6 weeks. But it may take longer to recover. You should be able to walk on your toe within a day after surgery. But you may need crutches for a few days.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
  • Wear clothing that is easy to put on and take off. You may have a large bandage on your foot.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will take about 30 to 60 minutes.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter E483 in the search box to learn more about "Surgery for Hammer Toe: Before Your Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.