You had surgery to repair your hammer toe. During the procedure, the surgeon made an incision (cut) in your skin to expose your toe joint and repair the toe. After surgery, you may have a wire or pin holding your toe joint together. You also may have swelling in your foot.
Self-care at Home
Keep your leg propped up on 1 or 2 pillows for the first 2 to 3 days to decrease swelling. Try to limit the amount of walking you have to do.
If it does not cause pain, you will be allowed to put weight on your foot 2 or 3 days after surgery. You can use crutches until the pain lessens. Make sure you put weight on your heel but not on your toes.
Most people wear a shoe with a wooden sole for about 4 weeks. After that, your health care provider may advise you to wear a wide, deep, soft shoe for up to 4 to 6 weeks. Follow your provider's instructions.
You will have a bandage on your foot that will be changed about 2 weeks after surgery, when your stitches are removed.
- You will have a new bandage for another 2 to 4 weeks.
- Make sure to keep the bandage clean and dry. Take sponge baths or cover your foot with a plastic bag when you take showers. Make sure water cannot leak into the bag.
If you have a wire (Kirschner or K-wire) or pin, it:
- Will stay in place for a few weeks to allow your toes to heal
- Is most often not painful
- Will be easily removed in your surgeon's office
To care for the wire:
- Keep it clean and protected by wearing a sock and your orthopedic boot.
- Once you can shower and get your foot wet, dry the wire well afterward.
- Your doctor may tell you other ways to clean and manage the pins.
For pain, you can buy these pain medicines without a prescription:
- Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin)
- Naproxen (such as Aleve or Naprosyn)
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
If you use pain medicine:
- Talk with your provider before using these medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, or have had stomach ulcers or bleeding.
- Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider or surgeon if you:
- Have bleeding from your wound
- Have increased swelling around the wound, wire, or pin
- Have pain that does not go away after you take pain medicine
- Notice a bad smell or pus coming from the wound, wire, or pin
- Have a fever
- Have drainage or redness around the pins
Call 911 or the local emergency number if you:
- Have trouble breathing
- Have an allergic reaction
Osteotomy - hammer toe
Montero DP, Shi GG. Hammer toe. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 88.
Murphy GA. Lesser toe abnormalities. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 84.
Myerson MS, Kadakia AR. Correction of lesser toe deformity. In: Myerson MS, Kadakia AR, eds. Reconstructive Foot and Ankle Surgery: Management of Complications. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 7.
Review Date 11/12/2020
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.