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Hammer, Claw, and Mallet Toes - Topic Overview

Will you need surgery?

In general, surgery is used only for severe toe problems. You may need surgery if other treatments don't control your pain, if your toe limits activity, or if you can't move the toe joint. For fixed toe problems, doctors often do surgery on the bones. For flexible toe problems, they move tendons. This can release tension on the joint and let the toe straighten.

Your options may include one or more of the following:

  • Removing part of the toe bone. This is called phalangeal head resection, or arthroplasty.
  • Removing part of the joint and letting the toe bones grow together. This is called joint fusion, or arthrodesis.
  • Cutting supporting tissues or moving tendons in the toe joint.
  • Getting a toe implant to replace a bent joint or straighten a toe.
  • In rare cases, removing the toe (amputation).

Surgery for these problems has not been widely studied and may not be for everyone. Talk to your doctor about the types of surgery and how much they might help you.

When thinking about surgery, keep in mind that:

  • Surgery can reduce the pain from a deformed toe. But it may not help how your foot looks.
  • Surgery has risks, including pain, swelling, and infection.
  • Your toe problem may come back after surgery. This is more likely if you keep wearing the types of shoes that cause toe problems.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 04, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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