What types of foot surgery are offered for toe problems
The three main toe problems that can be resolved with foot surgery are deformity, pain in the toe joints and metatarsalgia. Toe problems and toe deformities such as claw toe and hammer toe happen when the tendons that move the toes get too tight or out of balance. The affected toe can rub on other toes and on the inside of your shoe, causing pressure and pain (see figure 1).
Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis can damage the toe joints and this may make them come out of position (dislocate).
What will happen during my foot surgery?
When you meet with your consultant surgeon they'll ensure that you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your foot surgery, they'll discuss with you what'll happen before, during and after the procedure and any pain you might have. Take this time with your consultant surgeon to ensure your mind is put at rest. We know that having an operation of any type can be stressful so we've created a short downloadable guide that you might find useful to print off and use to write down any questions you may have. Do take this with you to your consultation.
What are the benefits of foot surgery for toe problems?
Your toes should be straighter, so your foot should fit more comfortably in a normal shoe.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Putting padding between your toes and strapping them in place can help to stop pain caused by the toes rubbing.
Custom-made insoles for your shoes will help to take the pressure off any painful areas. Special shoes that are wider and deeper than normal can stop your toes rubbing.
What does foot surgery involve?
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. The foot surgery depends on the problem with your toes and may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone.
Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny screws.
What complications can happen?
1. General complications of any operation
Infection in the surgical wound
Difficulty passing urine
2. Specific complications of this operation
Damage to nerves
Damage to blood vessels
Problems with bone healing
Loss of movement in the toes
Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
Pain in the ball of the foot
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day or the day after.
For the first week after foot surgery, you will need to spend most of the time with your leg raised up so that the swelling settles.
It can take six weeks or longer before the swelling has gone down enough for you to wear a normal soft shoe.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
If you have problems with your small toes that are causing pressure and pain, surgery should straighten your toes and help make your foot fit more comfortably into a normal shoe.
Author: Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)
Illustrations: Mr Stephen Milner DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.)
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
Paying for your operation
Foot surgery for problems of the small toes costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.