When it comes to foot surgery, patients are often just as concerned with recovery times as they are with the procedure itself. This makes a lot of sense. After all, relatively few individuals can afford to spend weeks or even months recovering from “minor” surgery. As such, today we’ll address a question we hear all the time, namely: how long before you can walk after hammertoe surgery? The answer depends on two main factors –– the severity of the hammertoes themselves and (more importantly) the surgical method employed. 

In the best-case scenarios, patients may be able to walk and perform normal daily activities immediately after hammertoe surgery. On the other hand, some patients may be forced to use crutches or a wheelchair for more than a month as a result of certain hammertoe corrective procedures. We’ll explain what causes these discrepancies –– and everything else you need to know about hammertoes –– here:

Hammertoe Severity

Hammertoes –– like bunions and heel spurs –– tend to develop slowly, over long periods of time. Hammertoes occur when several toes bend downward in an unnatural fashion and become “stuck” that way. Individuals who wear high heels or tight-fitting shoes, for instance, are susceptible to developing hammertoes for just this reason. However, others may simply have a genetic predisposition to hammertoes. 

Generally speaking, hammertoes can be considered either flexible or rigid. Flexible hammertoes can still be bent back into their natural shape, and methods like physical therapy or switching to more comfortable footwear can sometimes limit or reverse muscle/tendon damage without surgery. Rigid hammertoes, conversely, cannot be bent and are often quite painful. The only way to correct rigid hammertoes is to undergo surgery. 

Traditional vs Minimally Invasive Foot Surgery

One reason why a person may be hesitant to have rigid hammertoes treated is down to the nature of traditional foot surgery. Often, hammertoe corrective surgery requires the patient to take significant time out of their schedule. In addition to the initial hospital stay, individuals who have traditional hammertoe surgery can expect to face a recovery period ranging from a few weeks to several months. During this time, they may be restricted to a wheelchair, crutches, or scooter. What’s more, traditional foot surgeries can also cause residual pain and scarring. 

Meanwhile, minimally invasive hammertoe corrective surgery accomplishes the same goals –– the realignment of hammertoes and pain relief –– of traditional surgery, without many of the associated drawbacks. Minimally invasive hammertoe surgery techniques allow surgeons to correct the misalignment in the toe through very small incisions. Because of this, the procedure is much less taxing on the foot than traditional surgery. 

What’s more, minimally invasive hammertoe surgery is an outpatient procedure that requires only localized anesthesia. So most patients are able to walk out of the operating room on their own two feet and drive home afterward. In terms of recovery, patients should be able to walk around and resume most –– if not all –– of their normal routine almost immediately. Patients will have to wear a protective shoe for about a week as well. 

Contact Us

Obviously, minimally invasive foot surgery is superior to traditional methodologies in every way. At Northwest Surgery Center, we specialize in minimally invasive foot surgery, and we can help you deal with common issues like corns, bunions, heel spurs, and hammertoes. Contact us here for more information or to schedule a consultation today. 


To learn more about hammertoe surgery or to inquire, contact the experts at Northwest Surgery Center or download our free “Guide to Minimally Invasive Foot & Ankle Surgery”!