Toe fusion surgery

You are here:

What is toe fusion surgery?

This procedure is performed to straighten the joint or joints of the toe. If you are suffering from big toe deformities or smaller toe deformities such as mallet toe, claw toe and hammer toe, you may require toe fusion surgery.

What does toe fusion surgery involve?

Surgery is normally a day case procedure, performed under a general anaesthetic, in which the toe is straightened and fixed in position with metal wire or a clip inside the toe.

Attending a pre-assessment screening is good way of maximising the benefits of your surgery. At your screening, you’ll have your blood tested to assess your Vitamin D levels; swabs will be taken to check for infection or other issues; you’ll be weighed and have a chance to talk through your medical history, to highlight any potential anaesthetics issues.

It is highly recommended that you stop smoking at least eight weeks before surgery because smoking affects your ability to heal and leads to health issues, such as greater risk of pulmonary embolism (blood clots forming in the lungs) or deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the calf).

Why might I need toe fusion surgery?

The toes will have a misshapen appearance and painful calluses develop due to friction between your toe and shoe, and also on the ball of your foot, which may protrude abnormally. Patches of hardened/rough skin may develop on the toe and ball of the foot. Left untreated, infection can occur in these calluses.

How long does it take to recover?

After your surgery, your foot will be bandaged and you will have some wires at the end of your toe. A physiotherapist will discuss your rehabilitation programme with you and will show you how to walk using a padded stiff shoe.

Once home, you should try to rest your foot, keeping as much weight off it as possible, and keeping it raised above the level of your heart whenever you can, especially in the first week after your operation. It is vital to refrain from smoking and taking anti-inflammatory medication as either can delay your recovery, or even prevent your bones from fusing. Depending on your job, you may be able to return to work after two weeks.

You will have some follow-up appointments, typically two and four weeks after your surgery, to remove your stitches and toe wires. You should be able to fully weight bear in your own shoes around two weeks after these appointments.

What is the long-term impact of toe fusion surgery?

Your toe should be fused and the wound healed around four to six weeks after surgery. Two to three months after your operation, you should be able to return to all of your usual activities and sports, although some mild swelling may remain for up to twelve months.