Normally, hammer toe is treated without surgery. Your doctor can suggest
Different foot wear - this will sometimes involve referral to an orthoptist. Generally, wide padded shoes help to relieve the symptoms and potentially correct the deformity.
Pain medication. Occasionally injections of steroids into the joint can relieve inflammation.
If the deformity is due to an underlying condition like arthritis this will reqiure its own treatment. Deformities associated with diabetes will often require referral to a podiatrist.
Surgery for hammer toe is indicated when
The deformity is causing significant symptoms that are not relieved by non-surgical measures. 'Significant symptoms' can be defined in many ways, but generally substantial impact on life and work are the key considerations.
The patient is able to cope with surgery. Generally, surgery becomes more dangerous in the elderly, and in those with significant heart and/or lung disease. Surgery will always be preceded with pre-operative testing to confirm that the patient is fit for surgery.
The operation to correct hammer toe is generally fairly minor and able to be performed without keeping the patient overnight. This varies depending on individual cases and should always be discussed with your surgeon.