A bunion is a bony lump that can form on the joint at the base of your big toe as a result of an imbalance of pressure placed on the foot over time. There are numerous factors that can cause a bunion to form, and there’s plenty of evidence that bunions cause pain and stiffness in the feet, especially when left untreated. The misalignment of the joint in the big toe can make it especially difficult to wear certain kinds of shoes or engage in some physical activities. However, people suffering from bunions often want to know exactly how far their pain can go. For example, can a bunion cause pain in the ankle? Can a bunion cause pain in the calves? Finally, can bunions cause leg pain?

To find the answers to these questions and more, let’s look at why and how bunions can cause pain and discomfort in the first place.

Why Are Bunions Painful?

Bunions are misalignments of the joints in the big toe, which often result in a bone-like “growth” on the interior side of the foot. Since the joints in the big toe are not in their correct alignment, people experience pain when trying to stand up, sit down, walk, jog, run, or put on footwear. The pain is due to the pressure that different actions put on the joints.

Additionally, misaligned joints can lead to diminished tissue between the bones. Much like arthritis, damaged or diminished tissue between the bones in the big toe can cause pain. This is due to the fact that joint tissue acts as a barrier between bones so that they don’t come into direct contact. When they do contact or joints are not properly aligned, pain can (and will) occur.

What Causes Bunions? 

Bunions are an extremely common medical condition that is likely to affect up to 1 in 4 people in the United States each year. A number of factors can cause bunions, most frequently including the following:

  • Wearing improper or ill-fitting footwear 
  • Foot stress or injuries 
  • Natural foot shape (those with flat feet or low arches are more likely to be at risk for developing bunions)
  • Genetic disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Down syndrome

How Far Can Bunion Pain Go?

No matter what causes bunions to develop, there is no denying that they can be an extremely painful condition, especially when left without proper treatment over time. Many people wonder if the pain they experience in their ankles, calves, or even thighs could be associated with bunions. So, how far can bunion pain go? Can bunions cause leg pain?

In the early stages, bunion pain is almost always limited to the feet and toes. However, the extent of the pain will depend on the severity of your condition. If you have a small bunion that only causes minor stiffness and discomfort, it’s highly unlikely that the pain will extend to your ankles, calves, or thighs. However, in severe cases, you may find yourself making accommodations in the way you walk to lessen the bunion pain and end up causing pain in your back, hips, and legs.

Left untreated, bunions can lead to complications that can increase pain in the feet and legs. For example, bunions can cause the loss of the arch in the foot, misalignment of the toes, and chronic foot pain. These symptoms can subsequently lead to pain in the calves, as severe bunions can make it difficult to maintain normal motion of the feet and ankles. This, in turn, puts additional stress on calf muscles, which can cause moderate to severe pain over time.

In any case, you should always consult a doctor if you’re experiencing unexplained pain or discomfort in any part of the body.

How to Get Rid of Leg Pain Caused by Bunions

Fortunately, you can get rid of any leg pain you experience as a result of bunions by removing the source of the problem. A bunionectomy can either correct the malalignment of your joints or remove the bunion entirely. In any case, this minimally-invasive procedure will permanently fix the issue of bunions, thereby eliminating any bunion-related pain in your feet, ankles, or legs.

There are numerous products on the market that intend to relieve bunion pain at home, such as toe splints, foot braces, corrective shoes, and more. Unfortunately for those who suffer from bunions, these treatments are not effective in the long term, as they do not treat bunions at the source or completely remove them from the foot. While wearing corrective footwear or sleeping in a brace can sometimes provide temporary relief for the pain associated with bunions, this is an extremely short-term solution as it does not treat or remove the bunion at its source. The only way to permanently treat bunions is by receiving a proper diagnosis from a medical professional and undergoing surgery to remove them. 

While bunion surgery has been previously regarded by both medical professionals and patients as one of the most painful surgeries one can undergo, the good news is that patients now have a new, simpler option for bunion treatment – minimally invasive surgery. 

At Northwest Surgery Center, patients can undergo a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that lasts about 90 minutes (including pre-operative and post-operative care) and serves as a permanent solution to painful bunions. Patients can walk and even drive themselves home immediately after surgery and can expect a minimal recovery period that is relatively painless. 

Bunions cannot be reversed and will not heal on their own, and those that are left untreated are likely to worsen in pain over time. Untreated bunions can make walking, driving, and even sleeping difficult due to high levels of pain. Bunions that are left untreated can also lead to further medical complications including pain in the hips, knees, and legs. Don’t let your pain worsen over time; if you think you might be suffering from bunions, speak with a medical professional as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis and to determine your best option for treatment moving forward. 

If you have bunions stopping you from living your life due to pain, it’s time to contact the professionals at Northwest Surgery Center. We can help you to diagnose medical conditions such as bunions and answer any questions you may have, including “can bunions cause leg pain?” Our minimally invasive outpatient procedure can remove your bunion and help you get back to living your life, free from pain. Don’t wait – contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our expert team members and to learn more about your options for bunion removal surgery.