Is Mallet Toe Surgery the Answer to Your Foot Pain?

There are many different types of foot surgery that can be done for patients who have chronic foot pain. Surgery is often recommended when other options have failed and the problem remains. One common problem is the misalignment or deformity of the toes, including mallet toe.

What is Mallet Toe?

Mallet toe is a form of hammertoe, which is when one or more toes has become deformed by bending down at a joint so that it no longer lies flat and instead is curled under. This causes pain and difficulty when standing and walking. Mallet toe affects the outside joint of the toe, closest to the front of your shoe. It is usually caused by wearing shoes, particularly high heels, that are too tight or narrow that have forced your toe to curl under over time. It can also be caused by an injury such as a broken toe, diseases that affect the nerves or muscles of the foot, or an abnormal gait. There may also be a genetic factor.

Symptoms of Mallet Toe

The symptoms of mallet toe may be minor early on, but often progress over time, becoming more severe. These include:

  • Toe pain, especially when walking, running or standing
  • Corns or calluses on the toe
  • Stiffness in the toe joint
  • Deformity, with the toe bending down at the joint so that it is stuck in a contracted or bent position

For some, the toe remains flexible, but as mallet toe progresses, it can become inflexible and stuck in the bent position. Because of the abnormal position, the toe often develops calluses or corns where the toe rubs against socks and shoes, causing additional symptoms such as bleeding, redness, and inflammation.

Treatments to Consider Before Surgery

If mallet toe is caught early on, there are less invasive treatments that may help. For some people, removing corns and calluses and using shoe inserts to realign the toe may help. Orthotics or specially designed shoes may also help. If there are inflammation and pain, injections can relieve the discomfort but may need to be repeated periodically.

If more conservative treatments don’t bring relief, mallet toe surgery can help. It is minimally invasive and can be done in the office or at an outpatient surgical clinic. It is rarely done as a hospital surgery unless there are other issues involved.

Mallet Toe Surgery Options

Mallet toe surgery involves cutting the tendons or joint capsules in the affected toe. For mallet toe, the most common procedure is Tenotomy and Capsulotomy. In this procedure, the tight tendons and capsules on the top and bottom of the contracted or curved toe joint are cut or severed to release the contraction. This allows the soft tissues to relax and flatten to their normal position.

Other surgical options for mallet toe include arthroplasty, including removal of bone and cartilage in order to realign the toe, joint removal, or implantation of a plastic orthotic to space the toes properly. Surgical realignment or derotation of overlapping mallet toes can be done by removing a bone segment and wedge of skin. In a few cases, an osteotomy procedure may require the toe to be fixed with a wire or pin through the toe bones.

What to Expect After Mallet Toe Surgery

Most mallet toe surgery is minimally invasive, requiring only a small incision and cutting of the tendon or joint capsule to release the flexed area. The incision is then closed with sutures. A dressing is applied to protect the incision and keep the toe aligned correctly in its new position. Pain relievers will help with the discomfort for the first few days. Rest and elevation of the foot will reduce pain and swelling. It’s best to rest at home for the first few days.

Patients wear a specially designed boot or shoe after surgery to protect the toe and keep the toe in the proper position for three to six weeks post-op. At about two weeks, stitches can be removed. If a temporary pin was used to align the toe, it can be removed in the office anywhere from three to six weeks after surgery.

Dr. Fuzaylov provides all hammertoe surgery patients with detailed instructions regarding proper at-home care. They include how long to stay off the affected foot, when to resume normal activities, and more. Complete recovery usually takes three to six weeks. If you have questions about hammertoe and surgical options, contact Dr. Fuzaylov’s office at 718-873-3174 or visit our website at Best Foot Doctor NY to schedule an appointment or chat with a representative. We offer many different services including laser nail treatment in NYC. We take the best care of your feet!

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