Pin Removal After Hammertoe Surgery

Pin Removal After Hammertoe Surgery

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For a toe to stay in the correct position, temporary pins are sometimes inserted during the hammertoe surgery. Will they be used in your procedure? It depends on the correction that is required. Still, if a doctor decides to place them, you’ll have to go through a pin removal after hammertoe surgery. We can help you learn what to expect from this process.

Recovery after pin removal from toe

Recovery after pin removal from a toe can vary based on a variety of factors including the exact nature of the surgery, the individual’s overall health, the type of care received after surgery, and how well the individual follows post-operative care instructions. However, here is a general timeline and recommendations for recovery:

  1. Immediate post-operative period (first few days): Some discomfort, swelling, and bruising is normal. Keeping the foot elevated and applying cold packs can help to reduce swelling. Pain medication, prescribed or recommended by the surgeon, should be taken as directed.
  2. Wound care: Keep the surgical site clean and dry to prevent infection. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions regarding how to care for the surgical site, including when you can start getting it wet or taking showers.
  3. Restricted movement: You’ll likely be advised to limit weight-bearing activities initially, and a special boot, shoe, or cast might be provided to protect the foot. Crutches or a walker might also be needed.
  4. Follow-up appointment: This typically occurs 1-2 weeks post-operatively, at which point the surgeon can assess healing progress, address any concerns, and possibly remove stitches if they were used.
  5. Gradual return to activity: Depending on how well the toe is healing, you may be able to begin gradually increasing your level of activity. This process typically takes place over several weeks, starting about 2-4 weeks post-operatively.
  6. Physical therapy: Some patients may benefit from physical therapy exercises to regain strength and flexibility in the toe. This typically starts once the toe has healed sufficiently, often around 4-6 weeks post-operatively.
  7. Full recovery: Full recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the individual and the specific nature of the surgery.

Remember, these are general guidelines and your surgeon will provide the best recovery plan tailored to your specific needs. Always follow the post-operative instructions provided by your healthcare provider. If you have any concerns or notice any signs of infection, such as increased pain, redness, swelling, or drainage from the surgical site, contact your doctor immediately.

How Long Do Pins Stay In Toe After Hammertoe Surgery?

Pins are usually removed from the toe between four and six weeks post-surgery. It’s one of the hammertoe treatment options used when a defected toe loses all its flexibility and becomes rigid. In this case, the surgeon often uses joint resection or fusion techniques. 

The pins are required to help the bones grow together – after they do, the pins are removed. They are the best surgical solution with more advanced cases of hammertoes. With their help, surgeons are able to achieve much straighter appearing toes.

How Long Do Pins Stay In Toe After Hammertoe Surgery

 After they are inserted, on the top of the operated toe (or toes), you’ll notice a small ball – it is there to keep those pins protected. Make sure you touch it as little as possible.

Your doctors should remove the bandages and look at the toe’s condition two to three weeks after the procedure. If you had pins inserted, they should examine their position as well. If you see that the pin has moved or if it falls out, contact your doctor immediately.

How are pins removed after foot surgery

Removal of pins (or K-wires) after foot surgery is usually a simple and straightforward procedure that often can be done in an outpatient setting or even in the doctor’s office.

Here are the general steps, but remember that the exact procedure can vary:

  1. Local anesthesia: Your doctor may inject a local anesthetic to numb the area where the pins are located. This helps to minimize any discomfort during the pin removal.
  2. Removal of the pins: Once the area is numb, the doctor will use a special tool to grasp the end of the pin. The pin is then pulled out. This may cause some pressure or minor discomfort, but it generally isn’t painful due to the anesthetic.
  3. Care of the pin sites: After the pins have been removed, the small holes where the pins were located will be cleaned and covered with a sterile dressing to keep them clean and prevent infection.
  4. Follow-up care: The doctor will provide instructions on how to care for the pin sites at home. This usually includes keeping the area clean and dry.

While the procedure is usually quick and relatively painless, some people may experience anxiety about it. If you’re feeling anxious, talk to your doctor. They may be able to provide medication to help you relax during the procedure, or explain the procedure in more detail to alleviate your concerns.

Is It Painful to Have Pin Removal After Hammertoe Surgery?

As we said, the pin will remain in your toe for several weeks, after which it should be removed. It’s usually done in the office, with the help of a specially designed tool, and anesthesia is not needed. There are no reasons to be afraid. The procedure itself is generally not painful since these pins begin to loosen on their own during the recovery. 

Some patients can experience a jolt of pain when the doctor turns the pin before removing it – but even if you do, it will last only for a moment. More often than not, instead of sharp pain, you’ll experience only a bit of pressure. 

 foot bandaged after hammertoe surgery

What Should You Do After the Pins Are Removed?

After the doctor removes the pins, you should learn how to keep the toe in the correct position by yourself by splinting or taping the toe. The doctor should show you how to do it properly and provide you with information on how long you should do it. Usually, this kind of care is required only for a couple of additional weeks after the pins are removed. 

After the procedure, a patient is usually given a cast or special shoe to protect the operated toe. However, you can switch to regular footwear after the doctor takes off the pins. 

As for further activities, such as walking or driving after hammertoe surgery and pin removal, consult with your doctor. Still, make sure you often rest and allow your foot to heal properly. Although general recovery lasts for about six weeks, keep in mind that a whole year may pass before you reach full recovery. 

You can help the recovery process and avoid problems after hammertoe surgery by buying better-fitting footwear and practicing physical therapy. Some toe exercises can help with circulation, scar tissue, toe strength, and flexibility, but make sure you consult the specialist about the right time to start doing them. 

Woman doing toe exercise

For More Information About Pin Removal, Make Sure You Consult Your Surgeon

It’s best to contact your surgeon and schedule a consultation to see if the pins are necessary in the first place. Some hammertoe surgeries can be done without inserting the pins – the doctor will decide if they are required for you. If the answer is yes, then the surgeon will provide you with all the information about the recovery process, including pin removal and everything concerning it. 

Our team at Lux Foot Surgery is ready to help with all the questions you may have. Hammertoe surgery is one of our specialties, and we have all the answers concerning hammertoe surgery and the pin removal process as a part of it – so don’t hesitate to contact us

We are available Monday through Thursday from 9 PM to 6 PM and Fridays from 9 PM to 5 PM. Fill out our online form or give us a call, and we will provide you with a professional consultation free of charge. Together we can come up with the best possible solution for your foot problem.


Why is my toe sticking up after hammertoe surgery?

If you notice that your toe is sticking up after hammertoe surgery, it’s important not to panic, but to understand this could be part of the healing process or potentially a sign of a complication. Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Normal Healing Process: After surgery, the toe can sometimes appear to be in an abnormal position due to swelling and the nature of the surgery itself. As the swelling subsides and the toe heals, it may return to a more normal position.
  2. Inadequate Healing or Reoccurrence: The toe may be sticking up if the hammertoe problem was not fully corrected during surgery, or if the problem has recurred. Hammertoe has a chance of reoccurrence if the factors that caused it initially, such as wearing ill-fitting shoes, are not addressed.
  3. Surgical Complication: In rare cases, the toe may be in an abnormal position due to a complication from surgery, such as damage to the nerves or tendons, or a problem with the fixation (pins, screws, or implants used to hold the toe in place).

If your toe is sticking up and causing discomfort, or if it does not improve over time, it’s important to contact your surgeon or healthcare provider. They can evaluate your toe to determine if it’s part of the normal healing process or if further treatment is needed. It’s always important to communicate openly with your healthcare provider about your recovery and any concerns you may have.

What Happens After Pins Are Removed?

After the pins are removed, a doctor will advise you to keep the toe in the right position with the help of a splint or tape – and show you how. If it’s time to remove the pins, it means that the bones have fused, and the recovery from hammertoe surgery is going as it should. 

Still, it doesn’t mean you can get back to regular activities immediately after removing the pins. Consult with the doctor when you can start driving, taking long walks, or exercising after the surgery. 

Do They Numb You to Remove Pins?

Typically, no anesthesia is needed during the pin removal process. It is painless for most patients, so expect to feel slight pressure while the pins are removed.  Even if you have low pain tolerance, you should not experience any severe pain during this process. However, if you have any fears, don’t hesitate to share them with your doctor. 


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