What Causes Burning Feet?
| Custom Feet
Burning Feet: What Is It, Symptoms, Causes, Home Remedies
If you are increasingly experiencing a burning sensation in your feet for quite some time now, you may have burning feet syndrome. It is often caused by nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) and is especially common in the elderly.
The pain worsens at night, with some relief during the day, and can be moderate to severe in intensity. While nerve damage is the most likely cause, fatigue, skin infection, and many other conditions may also lead to burning feet syndrome.
The heat and pain may occur not only at the bottom of the foot but also at the foot’s top, ankle, and leg's lower parts. In addition to a burning sensation, you should keep an eye on numbness, tingling, or prickling in the feet or lower leg — as if you were walking on pins and needles.
Furthermore, you may also notice your feet getting heavy and warm and the skin over your feet turning red.
What Conditions Can Cause Burning Feet?
While diabetes is the most common cause of nerve damage, it may also occur due to other causes, such as
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Certain vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B12, folate, and occasionally vitamin B6)
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease — the most common inherited nerve disease.
- Small fiber sensory neuropathy — often results in painful burning in the feet.
- Complex regional pain syndrome — occurs in a limb, most commonly after an injury or surgery.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome — a condition in which the nerve passing from the ankle to the foot gets compressed.
In additions to these causes of nerve damage, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, certain infections such as shingles, Lyme disease, and HIV, but especially athlete’s foot — a commonly seen fungal infection in athletes — may also lead to nerve damage or cause burning feet independently.
Are There Any Home Remedies for Burning Feet?
If you cannot consult with your doctor for some reason or are looking for immediate relief, home remedies are an excellent option. You can start by soaking your feet in an ice bath, followed by rest, compression, and elevation of the feet.
Although anecdotal, soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath or apple cider vinegar bath may also offer relief. You can also take over-the-counter medications (NSAIDs) for pain and topical creams and ointments if you suspect infection.
In addition, foot pads and shoe inserts (insoles) are also commonly used for treating burning feet. Doctors recommend using customized shoes or insoles for peripheral neuropathy, especially for people with diabetic neuropathy.
Such orthotic devices not only improve pain and burning sensation in the feet but also prevent future damage and the resulting infections. However, insoles are an adjunct therapy to reduce symptoms and are not the cure for burning feet syndrome.
Furthermore, you can also take supplements to offset vitamin deficiencies and hypothyroidism. Some research also supports the use of supplements like turmeric, ginger, and fish for various forms of neuropathy. And finally, physical therapy, exercise, and massage are also essential for relieving the burning sensation.
However, if your condition does not improve or even worsens, you must seek medical attention. Your doctor will first prescribe pain medications that are not available over the counter and may then resort to other treatment options if the initial management fails.