Hammer Toe Surgery Recovery Times

Podiatrists sometimes recommend hammer toe surgery for patients who:

  • Experience significant pain
  • Struggle to walk
  • Do not respond to less-invasive procedures

During a typical hammer toe correction surgery, the podiatrist may remove the deformed or protruding bone before attempting to re-align the joint. If the joint is especially inflexible, a small steel pin may be inserted to force the toe back into its natural position.

Recovery times vary, but most patients can expect to be back on their feet within six weeks.

Non-Surgical Hammer Toe Treatment Techniques

Before recommending surgery, your podiatrist will most likely explore the efficacy of less-invasive hammer toe treatments. These solutions include the following.

Changing Footwear

High heels and tight-fitting footwear can contribute to the development of toe deformities. During your initial hammer toe consultation, your podiatrist may inspect your footwear or ask questions about your regular, everyday shoes.

If your podiatrist believes that your footwear is responsible for your hammer toe, they might recommend a more comfortable pair of shoes or, in some cases, custom orthotics.


Hammer toe is sometimes caused or exacerbated by imbalanced muscles. Even if imbalanced muscles did not cause hammer toe, as the condition progresses, it can force the muscles and tendons of the affected toe to tighten.

Stretching and movement exercises can help relax these muscles and tendons. Common exercises include manual toe stretches, where the patient uses their own hands to gently stretch their toe, or “towel curls,” which involve the use of a towel.

Padding and Taping

Hammer toe-affected joints that have retained some flexibility can be taped into place. Padding can also help relieve pain and discomfort-related symptoms.


A splint can help keep the toe straight.

Steroid Injections

Common hammer toe complications include both pain and local inflammation. Your podiatrist could administer steroid injections, which could relieve these symptoms and mitigate further hammer toe-related discomfort.

The Importance of Treating Hammer Toe

Hammer toe can be treated, but only with the right strategies. Left untreated, hammer toe can grow progressively worse. Untreated hammer toe can evolve as follows:

Flexible hammer toe

Flexible hammer toe is the first stage of hammer toe. Patients with flexible hammer toes can still move the affected joint.

Semi-rigid hammer toe

Semi-rigid hammer toe is characterized by a stiff, hard-to-move joint.

Rigid hammer toe

Rigid hammer toe cannot be moved because the tendons and tissues surrounding the toe have become too tight to be manipulated. 

While even rigid hammer toe can be corrected, most hammer toe treatments are gradual.

Fortunately, with the right podiatrist, relief is often immediate, and symptoms may disappear over the course of mere weeks.

Dr. P. Roman Burk
Providing experienced private practice podiatry services in the Caldwell and Meridian, ID area since 2007.