Unless you step on something hot your feet should not been feeling any burning sensation. But many people complain of a burning sensation under the feet. A sensation like that is mostly due to nerve damage in the legs. Medically this nerve damage is known as neuropathy. There are many reasons for burning feet but diabetes is the most common of them all. The treatment usually focuses on preventing further nerve damage and reducing pain.
Causes of burning feet
Neuropathy is the most common cause of burning fee. The damaged nerves send pain signals to the brain which causes the burning sensation, even though there is no wound under the feet. Patients often have tingling and numbness in the feet as well. Many patients complain that their feet are overly sensitive to touch with varying degrees of burning pain. The pain can vary from mild to truly disabling. Diabetes and alcohol abuse are the main cause of neuropathy in the legs.
There are also many other conditions that can cause the burning feet sensation like chronic kidney disease, vitamin deficiency, low thyroid hormone levels, HIV, side effects of medications, heavy metal poisoning and vaculitis or inflammation of blood vessels and many other medical conditions. A proper diagnosis is required to determine the cause. Besides neuropathy inflammation of the feet can also cause burning sensation. The most common is athlete’s foot or fungal infection of the skin. Peripheral artery disease causes poor circulation in the feet and cause burning, tingling and pain in the feet.
Diagnosis for burning feet
If a person has the burning feet problem and has been a diabetic then the cause is easily identified. For such people the diagnosis of burning feet due to neuropathy is straightforward and no additional testing is required. In those people who develop acute burning feet without any explainable cause further testing may be needed. Tests like electromyography or EMG test of muscle function using electrical activity is done. Nerve conduction study is also done in some patients. Other may require in addition to the above certain blood, urine and spinal fluid tests or in severe cases even nerve biopsy, though very rarely recommended by doctors.
Treatments for burning feet
The first step in the treatment for burning feet due to neuropathy is to stop ongoing nerve damage. In other cases the treatment for underlying disease will improve the neuropathy and symptoms. In cases where the cause cannot be identified the doctor will focus on treating the person’s symptoms.
For diabetic patients keeping the blood sugar under control can give solace to the burning feet symptoms and manage the neuropathy. The treatment usually requires dietary changes, oral medications and at time insulin injections.
For people with other forms of neuropathy or other causes the burning feet problem can be treated by managing the pain through medications, supplements for vitamin deficiency, stopping excessive drinking in alcoholics and treating thyroid problems. The doctor after identifying the specific problem will treat the specific health condition and this will give relief to the burning feet symptoms.