The most common cause of a burning feeling in your feet is nerve damage, often related to diabetes. There are other possible causes though, too. The pain from burning feet can be intermittent or constant and range from mild to severe. Your feet may feel hot, tingling, prickling or numb. The pain is often worse at night. Overheating is caused by fixable problems with your socks and shoes and by fatigue after a long workout. But burning feet may also be a symptom of medical conditions like athlete’s foot or nerve damage. Awareness of these will help you identify solutions quickly so that you can reduce any discomfort.
There are other possible causes though, too. The pain from burning feet can be intermittent or constant and range from mild to severe. Your feet may feel hot, tingling, prickling, or numb. The pain is often worse at night. Although many medical conditions can cause burning feet, diabetes is the most common. Most burning feet treatments focus on preventing further nerve damage and reducing pain.
In most people with neuropathy, the leg nerves become damaged first. These people often have tingling and numbness in the feet as well. Many people complain that their feet are overly sensitive to touch (hyperesthesia) and can have varying degrees of burning pain.The sensation of burning feet can come from a wide range of conditions. It’s important to determine a cause so you can receive treatment. While fatigue or a skin infection can cause temporarily burning or inflamed feet, burning feet are most often a sign of nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy).
Burning feet affects patients in all age groups, although patients over the age of 50 seem to go more often to the doctor’s office for it.The burning sensation on the feet can range from mild to the point of disabling the person from carrying out normal activities. In addition to pain, some people experience a tingling sensation and numbness too.
Causes for Burning feet
- High blood sugar reduces the transmission of signals from the nerves. This can affect sensation to various parts of the body, including the feet. High blood sugar also weakens the blood vessel walls that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
- Fungal Infections.
- Nerve damage.
- Burning feet affects patients in all age groups, although patients over the age of 50 seem to go more often to the doctor’s office for it.
- Blood disorders.
- Small fiber neuropathy.
- Lyme disease.
- Kidney disease.
- Circulatory disorders.
- Low thyroid, hormone levels.
- Nerve entrapments.
- HIV / AIDS.
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).
- Heavy metal poisoning (lead, mercury, arsenic).
- Peripheral Neuropathy.
- GBS and CIDP. Treatments are very specialized and include plasma exchange or immune globulin therapy (IVIG).
- Athlete’s foot.
- SFSN is a painful neuropathy that often results in painful burning in the feet.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
- Exposure to toxins or chemicals.
- Contact Dermatitis.
Symptoms for Burning Feet
- Increased sweating
- Dull ache
- Increased sensation of temperature
Diagnosing Burning Feet
Most people who have burning feet have a likely cause (such as diabetes) that can be identified.
- Through a physical exam and an analysis of your history, your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis. X-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests—such as CT scans, ultrasounds and MRI scans.
- Electromyography (EMG). A test of muscle function using recordings of electrical activity inside the muscles.
- Nerve conduction study. A nerve conduction study tests the ability of nerves to transmit impulses. A nerve is stimulated and the response in the muscle controlled by that nerve is measured.
- Laboratory tests. Sometimes, tests of blood, urine or spinal fluid may be suggested to help diagnose the cause of burning feet. Vitamin levels can be checked with a simple blood test.
- Nerve biopsy. Very rarely, a doctor may suggest cutting out a piece of nerve tissue and examining it under a microscope.
The most important treatment for burning feet due to neuropathy is to stop any ongoing nerve damage. In some cases treatment of the underlying disease will improve the neuropathy and symptoms.
- Vitamin deficiency. Taking additional vitamin B12 orally or by injection can replace low levels of this nutrient.
- Alcoholism. Stopping excessive drinking prevents ongoing nerve damage and allows nerves to heal.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicines (analgesics). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, or naproxen may temporarily ease pain.
- Nerve function tests. Electro diagnostic tests may be ordered in the case of suspected nerve damage.
- Electromyography (EMG). This test measures the electrical activity of a muscle and is performed to see how the muscle responds to nerve stimulation.
- Surgery. Orthopedic surgery may be necessary in cases that do not respond to medications or more conservative forms of treatment.
There is no way to completely prevent burning feet, but these guidelines may help to address some problems. Schedule regular examinations with a podiatrist or foot care specialist.
- Wearing the proper footwear.
- Good foot care is the key to battling athlete’s foot.
- Wearing socks made of cotton only to decrease sweating.
- Avoid exposing your feet to heat.
- Raise your legs and feet.
- Adding insoles, inserts, and other types of orthotics.
- Rotate your shoes and socks, both between walking sessions and during the day.
- Examine your feet daily for signs of infection or injury. Check your feet for blisters, sores, cuts, ulcers and breaks in the skin to prevent infections.
- Bathing your feet in cool (not iced) water.
- Creams or ointments with cooling properties.
- If you have diabetes, controlling your sugar may be the single most effective method of preventing or treating neuropathy secondary to this cause.
- Increase your daily nutritional intake, especially Vitamin B.
- Rest your feet as often as possible.
- Elevate your feet while resting.
- Decrease your intake of narcotics and/or alcohol.
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