Claw toe surgery and recovery
After a claw toe operation, recovery should allow the patient to recover the functional use of their foot.
Claw toe surgery or “hammer toe” is an orthopedic procedure which aims to correct the deformation of the claw toe, more commonly called “claw toe”. . This deformity is often associated with excessive dorsiflexion of the metatarsophalangeal joint and hyperflexion of the intermediate and distal joints. This pathology of the foot can cause pain, calluses, wounds, impingement whilst wearing shoes and impaired walking.
Doctor Julien Lopez is a specialist in percutaneous foot and ankle surgery in Nice and Cannes. He is responsible for operating on all pathologies of the foot and ankle, in particular claw toe.
Here's everything you need to know about claw toe surgery and what to expect after surgery.
What is claw toe surgery?
The surgical procedure consists of performing an osteotomy (surgical fracture of the bone) or a tenotomy (surgical section of the tendons) to correct the deformity. Osteotomies can be performed at the base of the phalanx, in its middle portion or distally depending on the degree of deformation and bone structure.
Tenotomies can be performed on the flexor or extensor tendons to balance the forces acting on the involved joints. They can be performed openly or by percutaneous technique. In certain clinical situations such as swan's neck deformity of the toes, tendon transfers can be performed.
Toe claw surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia and on an outpatient basis, providing rapid recovery and an early return to normal function.
What does the claw toe dressing look like?
During the operation, the surgeon places a dressing on the claw toe. This plays a decisive role in recovery running smoothly. It supports the toes so that they can stabilize properly.
Depending on the situation and the surgical instructions, the dressing can be changed every 2 days or kept until the next consultation with the practitioner. In the latter case, only the surgeon is authorized to remove or change it, even when there are blood stains.
What are the consequences of claw toe surgery?
The consequences of the claw toe operation can vary from one patient to another as well as from the surgical technique used.
To allow the patient to recover more quickly and with less pain, Doctor Lopez performs percutaneous surgery. This minimally invasive technique consists of operating through the skin, using miniaturized tools. This reduces tissue aggression and limits scarring. However, it is essential to follow the practitioner's instructions to allow the foot to recover optimally.
Here are the steps following the minimally invasive claw toe operation and its recovery.
Upon returning home, the patient must keep the foot elevated when it swells and becomes painful. Extra support is possible, it is recommended to wear the orthopedic shoes prescribed at least during the first few days, depending on the pain. The orthopedic shoe after the claw toe operation is to be worn as soon as you leave the hospital and for 3 weeks following the intervention. Note that during these 3 weeks, driving is not prohibited, remember to check that you are covered by your insurance.
The patient may feel slight pain in the operated area. It is recommended to ice the swelling, without direct contact with the skin, several times a day after the operation, at least for 1 week. Using ice packs or a cryotherapy splint is practical.
For the first fifteen days after the operation, it is recommended to walk at least fifteen minutes per hour, only for non-traumatic activities. Walking should be considered with the claw toe walking shoe. If pain permits, you can walk barefoot at home or in open, comfortable shoes.
Finally, to combat pain, it is essential to respect the medication prescriptions prescribed by the anesthesiologist, in particular painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
The post-operative claw toe dressing will be checked by the practitioner during the first consultation appointment.
Once the initial recovery period is over, the dressings and splints will be removed, and the orthopedic shoes will be replaced with looser fitting shoes, such as comfortable trainers. However, it is important to note that post-operative swelling may persist for an average period of 2 to 4 months.
The surgeon will give specific instructions for self-rehabilitation, which can help restore the full range of motion of the toes. This may include toe flexion and extension exercises, as well as gentle massage to help reduce swelling and promote rapid healing.
How long does claw toe healing take?
How long claw toe healing takes depends on several factors, including the surgical technique used, the severity of the deformity, the patient's overall health, and individual response to healing. In general, complete healing is achieved after 2 to 3 weeks.
However, it should be noted that wound healing is not limited to healing the visible wound. It also includes complete restoration of functionality and mobility of the operated toe. Thus, it is crucial to follow the surgeon's instructions regarding the recovery period and post-operative care to allow for optimal healing of the deep tissues.
In the case of claw toe, following the operation, regular follow-up consultations with the surgeon are also recommended to monitor the progress of the healing and to detect any possible complications. Two consultations are generally necessary, at 3 weeks then at 2 months.
What shoes should I wear while recovering from claw toe surgery?
Choosing appropriate footwear for your foot shape is an important aspect of recovery during recovery from claw toe surgery. It is recommended to choose shoes which allow the toes to spread freely without friction. Shoes for sensitive feet made of soft leather provide optimal comfort and adaptation to the shape of the individual foot, which helps prevent compression or irritation of the toes.
Prioritizing comfort over style is essential to promote a quick and effective recovery after surgery. Shoes should be chosen carefully and adapted to the individual needs of the patient to avoid any post-operative complications. Supporting the foot at the instep and heel avoids pressure on the toes.
How long does it take to walk after claw toe surgery?
How long does it take to walk after claw toe surgery is a common question.
Resumption of walking is possible immediately with the use of a shoe after claw toe surgery: a relief shoe. This shoe should be worn for a variable period (3 to 4 weeks on average) to allow optimal healing and prevent any complications. However, it is recommended to limit walking and rest for the first two weeks to avoid excessive pressure on the operated limb.
It is also essential to follow post-operative instructions during claw toe surgery recovery and schedule regular follow-up visits to monitor recovery progress. Patients may also benefit from post-operative rehabilitation to restore normal toe functionality.