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Burning in the Feet: Causes and Treatments

Foot pain can come in many forms, but one of the most common is burning. A person may experience burning in their feet for numerous reasons, and this pain is not a welcomed one. When you have burning, you can try traditional remedies for foot pain .

Burning foot pain is often complicated to self-diagnose because the pain can be caused by a lot of different things.

What Causes Burning Foot Pain

When a patient is experiencing burning sensation in their feet, it’s most often caused by nerve damage. The damage occurs in the legs, and it’s a condition called “neuropathy.” Neuropathy is actually caused by damaged nerve fibers that now misfire and become overactive.

The nerves will send pain signals to the brain, but the signals are sent even if no wound is present.

If you’re suffering from this condition, you’ll likely have suffered from numbness and tingling in the feet.

Nerve damage isn’t the only thing to cause this burning foot pain either. I once had a shoe that caused my foot to burn intensely. The shoe, while wide enough, just didn’t fit my foot properly. Improper fit led to excess pressure being applied to the bone on the inner part of my foot.

The end result?

Pain. Lots of pain. I didn’t understand what was causing the pain either. I tried orthopedic shoe inserts which helped a little, but it wasn’t until I purchased a new, better fitting shoe that all of my pain disappeared.

My feet felt great.

And to this day, I don’t have any more burning pain in my feet. People that have burning sensations on the bottom of their foot rather than an area of the bone may be suffering from pressure pain.

Pressure, when allowed to remain on the same area of the foot for too long, will cause pain to develop. Just like a pressure sore, blood will begin to pool in the area which will become sore and uncomfortable over time.

Proper insoles can help with this, such as MindInsoles which uses acupressure techniques, cushioning and magnets to provide foot relief.

WebMD lists a lot of different causes for this burning sensation in your feet, including:

  • Neuropathy
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Kidney disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Medication side effects
  • Vasculitis
  • GBS
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Diabetes

And this is just a start of the issues that can cause your feet to feel like they’re burning.

Diagnosing the Cause of Burning Feet

Burning feet have a cause, and while many people believe it’s their shoes, it’s often a deeper issue. Sure, if your shoes are uncomfortable or too tight, replace them and see if it makes a difference. Oftentimes, the pain relief will be immediate if it’s a shoe-related problem that you’re dealing with.

You’ll need to undergo tests to determine the cause of your foot issues:

  • Nerve conduction test that will test your nerves’ ability to transmit impulses properly
  • Muscle function test, or EMG test
  • Laboratory tests that check different levels in the blood, urine or spinal fluid
  • Biopsy of the nerve (rare)

Your doctor will conduct the test he or she feels will lead to your foot issue being solved. Oftentimes, these underlying medical issues can be treated and will allow you to find some form of relief from the burning sensation in your feet.

Again, insoles and the like will help with common issues, but they will not help with any of the medical issues listed above.

Nerve damage, neuropathy, is the most common cause of burning feet, and the main form of treatment will always start with trying to control the damage from worsening. Oftentimes, this will involve treating the underlying condition which will then improve symptoms and neuropathy.

But, if you have small fiber neuropathy, you may find that no cause can accurately be identified. When this happens, you’ll find that the doctor will focus on treating the symptoms or pain you’re dealing with.

This may mean:

  • Medication
  • Dietary changes
  • Lifestyle changes

Every cause of burning sensation will be treated differently, you may need the following treatment, or another form of treatment, depending on the issue:

  • Vitamin injections or supplements may be given to help stop nerve issues relating to vitamin deficiency
  • Stopping the consumption of alcohol will help prevent further nerve damage relating to alcoholism
  • Dialysis will be provided to persons with kidney disease that cannot eliminate the toxins that are causing their burning feet symptoms
  • Thyroid medications may be prescribed to help reverse neuropathy

It’s possible that you may also have other issues that are contributing to your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe a variety of changes that can help tackle the root cause of your foot discomfort and allow you to live a normal, pain-free life.

Pain medications may be prescribed in serious cases where the burning sensation is causing a negative impact on a person’s quality of life.

A physical exam will be conducted by your doctor that will try and find signs relating to:

  • Structural issues in the legs and feet. There’s a chance that you may be suffering from structural issues that are causing you to put excess pressure on certain areas in the foot. Orthotics may be able to help correct these issues.
  • Fungal infections which may require antibiotics to clear up.
  • Reflexes may be tested to determine if there’s any neurological issues that may be causing you pain and discomfort.
  • Sensation may be tested to determine if you’re suffering from a “lack of feeling.”

Expect your doctor to inquire about your medical history to have a better overall view of what may be causing you to suffer from burning feet.

The good news is that treatment is often straightforward, and you’ll be able to find relief in most cases. If your issues are related to diabetes, your doctor may recommend medication and dietary changes. With the right diet, you may be able to reverse your diabetes allowing for a major improvement in your lifestyle outside of just your burning feet.

Researchers are always conducting new studies and working on new pain therapies that can stop this burning sensation from occurring.

August 31, 2018


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