Burning Foot Pain - What Causes it & Treatment | Pain Care

Burning Foot Pain – What Causes it & Treatment

Are you surprised waking up one day to burning foot pain? Does it cause problems walking? Burning foot pain is often described having uncomfortably ‘hot’ sensation in the foot.

It can be mild or severe and sometimes makes walking difficult. Burning pain in arch of foot is almost as same as tingling feet. Doctors call it paresthesia. You may also feel other symptoms such as numbness and pins and needles sensation.

Here we explain what causes burning pain in foot and how it occurs.

What causes foot pain and burning?

Actually, you can elicit burning foot pain by resting buttocks on the heels in the same manner as the traditional Japanese sitting style called seiza.

To inexperienced practitioners, it can make your legs and feet go numb and have pins and needles (in other words, to sleep) in about 10 minutes.

Sitting on your thighs cuts a lot of blood circulation in the leg, so the nerves elicit a numbing sensation as a signal of poor blood flow.

Once you arise, blood floods back into the leg. The rush of blood stimulates the deadened nerves too much, causing a sensation of pins and needles.

The tingling sensation is usually elicited when the nerves become damaged. There are plenty of conditions that damage the nerves.  The most common are diabetes and alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of nerve damage caused by diabetes are collectively called diabetic neuropathies. Diabetes has several methods of causing damage to your nerves:

  • Elevated fat and blood sugar levels, or having too low insulin, for long periods, damages the nerves.
  • Over time, diabetes cuts blood flow to the very tiny arteries and veins (microcirculation), so nerves may receive less oxygen and nutrients.
  • Abnormal immune system activity, the main cause of diabetes, may end up damaging the nerves.
  • Inherited traits that increase the risk of having nerve problems.
  • Having lifestyle factors like smoking and alcohol abuse.

Alcohol itself is a neurotoxic substance i.e. poisonous to the nerves. Aside from reaching the brain, the alcohol you drink can reach the nerves.

The reaction of nerves to alcohol toxicity is a reason why intoxicated individuals exhibit muscle spasms, aches, and numbness.

Other causes of burning foot pain

The nerves are affected by several health problems. Burning foot pain is also a symptom of conditions such as:

Vitamin B12 deficiency – vitamin B12 is also known as folate, and it is important for nerve functioning. Too low levels of vitamin B12, caused by having pernicious anaemia and vegan diet, can cause the problem.

Athlete’s foot – A fungal infection caused by very sweaty feet while wearing tight-fitting shoes. Aside from causing intense itching, this foot problem may cause burning foot pain.

Peripheral vascular disease – a condition caused by blocked arteries in the arms or legs, cutting off blood flow.

Morton’s neuroma – caused by abnormal thickening of tissues around a nerve in the foot, compressing on the nerve and causing symptoms.

Metatarsalgia – a painful condition caused by inflammation of the bones or cartilage of the foot. It is caused by too much running or repetitive stress on the foot.

Charcot-Marie tooth disease – an inherited condition affecting the peripheral nerves, which includes nerves running down the foot. It also causes foot drop, high foot arches, and poor balance.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome – Compression of the nerve that runs inside the tarsal tunnel of the foot. It works in the same manner as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Chronic regional pain syndrome – a rare condition where there is a dysfunction in the whole nervous system. Characterized by constant firing of pain signals by the nerves. Causes and cure are still unknown.

Erythromelalgia – another rare condition characterized by intermittent blockage of blood vessels due to problems in the blood vessels. It often causes the feet to become vivid reddish in color.

Chemotherapy – drugs used to treat cancer are often neurotoxic i.e. poisonous to the nerves. You might feel burning foot pain during and sometime after chemotherapy.

Chronic kidney disease – the kidneys remove toxins in the body. Longstanding kidney problems cause toxins to build up in the blood and cause symptoms.

Underactive thyroid – too low functioning of the thyroid can often cause problems in the nerves.

Treatments for burning foot pain

In most cases, you can resolve burning foot pain on your own. It may respond to simple first-aid treatments. However, you might need to go to the doctor if you experienced it with other symptoms or if it persists.

Here are some simple treatments for burning foot pain. These treatments are effective for uncomplicated cases:

  • Rest – you may need to use crutches or ride a wheelchair for a while.
  • Ice – make a cold pack by putting ice water in a warmer bag, and apply on the foot for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Lose weight – it may help remove pounds bearing on the nerves, which may help resolve the symptom.
  • Wear proper footwear – stay away from tight-fitting shoes or synthetic socks. Make sure to inspect footwear first before wearing.
  • Take prescribed medicines – if you have diabetes or kidney disease, make sure you take medicines or dialysis regularly.
Bottom Line: Resolving the cause usually treats it. If you have a history of high blood sugar, health issues affecting the nervous or immune system, and kidney problem, you must be seen by a doctor right away. Have burning foot pain checked before it is too late.
Dr. Sachin

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