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Swollen Toe After Hammertoe Surgery

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Hammertoe surgery is considered quite a simple procedure, but even the simplest surgeries can have some complications. For example, a toe swollen a month after hammertoe surgery is considered one. So, what can you do in case you have a swollen toe after hammertoe surgery? We’ve explained all the options in the text below. 

Is Swollen Toe After Hammertoe Surgery A Normal Thing?

Is swelling something that you should worry about after surgery? To understand this, it’s crucial to know that every surgery presents a certain level of trauma to the tissue – even quick, outpatient procedures like minimally invasive hammertoe surgery. Swelling is a reaction of your tissue to that trauma, which means that having absolutely no swelling after a surgical procedure is not realistic. 

Immediately after your surgery, the operated toe will be red, a bit swollen, and maybe even stiff for a while – even though the deformity was corrected successfully. So, this shouldn’t alarm you – unless it persists for some period of time. Usually, doctors start worrying if the swelling doesn’t go down about a month after the procedure. 

How Can You Reduce Swelling After Hammertoe Surgery?

Can you do something to help yourself get through the recovery period as smoothly as possible? Depending on the type of surgery you had, your recovery time can vary – if you’ve undergone a minimally invasive procedure, it will be about 4-6 weeks. During that time, there are some things you can do to ensure you heal properly and minimize the pain and swelling (these two often go hand in hand). Your doctor will give you detailed instructions before the procedure, so let’s see how you can reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation.


Recovery doesn’t always need to be painful, so some patients don’t need medication to deal with the pain. However, if your toe is swollen and it hurts, your doctor will prescribe some over-the-counter pain medications that will help with both swelling and pain. In most cases, patients will use NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The doctor will tell you the dose you need to use and for how long. Some patients might need these pain medications for an extended period of time – if that’s the case, the doctor has to monitor the use. 

Elevating the Injury

Every doctor will tell you to elevate your leg after hammertoe surgery, and the reason for that is simple – elevation will help with the lymphatic drainage and ensure the swelling goes down quicker. You should elevate your leg above the level of your heart – if you’re lying down, put the leg against the wall or on the pillow. 

Applying Cold Therapy

Ice packs (or cold packs) can also help reduce swelling. It’s important to note that you should never put ice directly on your skin – instead, place a thin cloth when applying ice packs. Cold therapy lasts 10-20 minutes – never leave your ice packs on the leg for longer. However, you can repeat the cold therapy every hour if you’d like. 


Of course, resting is an important part of your recovery – it’s crucial after every surgery. You can set up a home recovery area where you can rest comfortably, and don’t forget to prepare those pillows that will help you elevate your leg. However, we must note that you shouldn’t spend the entire recovery period off your feet. Walking is actually good for you after minimally invasive hammertoe surgery. You will be able to carry your weight the same day after the procedure, and it’s recommended that you walk a little bit each day. Don’t push yourself too hard – take it easy and slowly increase the distance you walk day after day. 

A person holding their legs up against a blue wall

What Other Hammertoe Surgery-Related Complications Can Occur? 

Swelling accompanied by pain isn’t the only thing that can occur after hammertoe surgery. Your doctor will inform you about all the possible risks before you schedule the procedure, but here are a few of the most common surgery-related complications that can happen:

  • Infection – whenever there is an incision on your skin, an infection is a possibility. Usually, infections after hammertoe surgery aren’t complicated and can be fully treated with a course of oral antibiotics. 
  • Scarring – since the surgeon has cut the skin, there will be a scar left at the incision site. Luckily, these scars are small and often fade over time. Rarely can they overgrow and turn into a keloid scar (red and inflamed tissue overgrowth). 
  • Delayed healing or dehiscence – wounds that won’t heal are common in smokers and patients with metabolic diseases. Dehiscence means that the wound has healed poorly or breaks open after healing. 
  • Floating toe – this is a type of deformity where the toe can’t lay flat on the surface but instead sticks up in the air. This causes problems with balance and weight-bearing. 
  • Deformity recurrence – hammertoe can return after surgery if the surgeon hasn’t treated its underlying issue or selected the wrong surgical procedure. In some cases, the return of the deformity can be a consequence of a technical mistake during surgery. 

Before the Procedure, Consult With Your Surgeon About the Complications and Recovery

Before you book a hammertoe surgery, you will have to come in for a consultation with a podiatrist. Every specialist will ensure you understand the risks and benefits of this procedure and that you have realistic expectations. Our doctors at Luxe Foot Surgery clinic is experienced and talented – they will take excellent care of you. You can contact us to book your consultation by filling out an online form or calling our office – we are here for you. 


How Long Does It Take to Completely Recover From Hammertoe Surgery?

It depends on the type of surgery. Traditional procedures can take a few months, but minimally invasive ones will take only about 4-6 weeks. 

Why Is My Foot Still Swollen 8 Weeks After Surgery?

If your foot takes a bit longer to heal, there might be some persistent mild swelling weeks after the surgery. However, you should talk to your doctor to make sure that everything is alright. 

Is Swelling Good for Healing?

Swelling is a part of a natural healing process. Still, if there is too much swelling, that might slow down the recovery, which is why we take steps to reduce it sometimes. 

Does Walking Reduce Swelling After Surgery?

Walking can help increase circulation and reduce swelling. It is recommended to walk every day for at least a little bit during your recovery period.


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