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Discharge Instructions for Hammer Toe Correction

Hammer toe correction is surgery to straighten a toe that is always bent at the middle joint.

It will take 4 to 8 weeks to heal. Home care and medicine can help.

Steps to Take

Home Care

To ease swelling and pain:

  • Apply an ice pack to your foot for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this several times a day. Put a towel between the ice pack and your skin.
  • Raise your foot above the level of your heart.
  • You may need to use a cane or crutches. Use them the way you were taught by your care team.

To prevent infection:

  • Clean the incision as you were taught by your care team.
  • Wash your hands before and after cleaning the incision or changing the dressing.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • You can shower, bathe, or soak in water when the doctor has said it is safe to do so.

Your doctor may have you wear a post-surgical shoe. This will help protect your foot.

Physical Activity

Limit standing and walking until your doctor tells you it’s okay to go back to your normal activities. You may have some limits:

  • Go back to work when the doctor says it is okay to do so.
  • You can drive when the doctor says it is safe.


You may have been asked to stop taking medicine before surgery. You can start it again when the doctor says it is safe to do so.

Medicine may be given to ease pain.

If you are taking medicine:

  • Take it as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could happen. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one, including over the counter products and supplements.


Your doctor will need to check on your progress. Go to all appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, a lot of bleeding or any leaking from the incision
  • Pain that is not eased by medicine

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Sports Med—The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


Crutches: fitting and teaching crutch walking. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated June 8, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019.

Hammer toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00160. Updated September 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.

Hammer toe. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114646/Hammer-toe. Updated March 30, 2015. Accessed May 20, 2019.

Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardJames P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 5/20/2019