Getting spontaneous waves of burning feelings in your feet?
Burning feet are keeping you awake at night?
It can be quite alarming to feel unusual sensations moving through your feet, especially when you can’t pinpoint a specific cause or trigger. This is a concern for many of our patients, who aside from feeling burning through their feet may also feel some tingling, numbness, pins and needles, sensitivity to cold, and other altered or heightened sensations.
Feelings of burning in the feet can affect anyone, but are most common in those over 50 years. The symptoms tend to worsen at night and ease during the day – though some symptoms get worse when walking. So what could be causing your feet to feel like they’re on fire at night? Here’s a look into the top causes seen by our Auckland podiatrists.
Nerve Damage From Diabetes
Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in our feet – a condition called peripheral neuropathy. As our nerves are responsible for what we feel, when our nerves become damaged, they can send pain and burning signals to our brain – even when we’re far from any potential source of heat. You can learn more about how diabetes can affect your feet, and how to protect them, here.
Prolonged or excessive alcohol use can lead to a condition called alcoholic neuropathy. Damage to the peripheral nerves usually occurs first, due to the long distance the nerves need to travel from the spinal cord to the feet. It isn’t just the alcohol itself that can affect the nerves – malnutrition can develop as alcohol can impair the absorption of essential nutrients. Like diabetic neuropathy, a burning sensation is just one of many altered sensations that those affected can experience.
Certain medical conditions or circumstances can also affect the nerves, even just temporarily, and result in burning sensations. These include hypothyroidism, a vitamin deficiency, kidney disease, nerve diseases like Charcot Marie Tooth, arthritis, inflammatory diseases, blood disorders, dermatitis and skin sensitivities, heavy metal poisoning, blood vessel damage (including due to smoking), and many more. It’s also not uncommon to experience burning in the feet a few weeks after bariatric surgery due to malabsorption of vitamin B after the surgery.
Infections Or Injuries
Infections and injuries can lead to burning in the feet because of the associated inflammation and swelling that they produce. When swelling in the feet or lower leg presses against and compresses a surrounding nerve, it can cause a wide range of changes in sensation in the area – including burning. The same can occur if there are changes in the space between the bones where nerves run through, like the tarsal tunnel in the ankle. Interestingly, an Athlete’s foot fungal infection can also cause itching, tingling and burning in the feet.
Having a Morton’s neuroma means that the lining around the nerve that runs down between the long bones of your feet has become irritated and swollen – and is another potential source of burning. A good way to test for a neuroma is to squeeze your feet from the sides (from the inside and outside of the foot, not from the top and bottom). If this produces notable pain, and perhaps some shooting sensations or any tingling, it could be a neuroma. Don’t worry – just book an appointment with our team.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Also referred to as peripheral vascular disease, this can be a cause of impaired blood flow that may also cause burning sensations as well as other sensation changes, which may be exacerbated by walking.
Sometimes, Further Testing Is Needed
If you feel like you can’t relate to any of the causes above, you may need further testing. Here, your podiatrist will look at any injuries or problems that may be affecting your nerves and producing your symptoms. If the pain is severe and unmanageable, we may refer you to a neurologist.
How Do I Stop My Feet From Burning?
Stopping or preventing burning sensations in the feet is done by addressing the underlying cause of the nerve irritation or damage. If it’s a specific medical condition, getting it under control, like taking thyroid medication for hypothyroidism can help manage and prevent burning in the feet. Where there’s an infection or an injury that is causing the nerve to be compressed, managing the problem through the various podiatric treatments we have available will help ease the symptoms. In some cases, like where the nerve damage is significant and permanent like it may be in diabetes, the focus must stay on preventing the symptoms from getting worse.
At home, you can may find the following to be helpful:
- Ensuring your shoes are comfortable, supportive and not too tight
- Soaking your feet in cold (not freezing) water for 15 minutes may give some temporary relief
- Avoid exposing your feet to hot temperatures
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications if your feet are inflamed or swollen
Get Started With Auckland’s Leading Podiatry Team
If you’re experiencing unusual sensations in your feet – whether it’s burning or something else – and you’re unsure where to start, come in and see our experienced podiatry team here in Remuera, Auckland. We’ll help you identify the cause of the changes you’re experiencing, and can refer you for further testing if needed. If the cause is an injury or foot problem, we’ll help you manage it using our world-class treatments and services.
Book your appointment online by clicking here or call us on 09 523 2333