Burning feet are a relatively common complaint. Your feet can feel like their burning if you’ve been on them for a long time and there is fatigue. Similarly, your feet can burn if there is a skin infection affecting the bottoms of your feet, but these are causes of temporary burning or inflammation in the feet. Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the legs and feet) is the most common underlying cause of burning in the feet. Some of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy and burning in the feet are:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Athlete’s foot
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
Poor arterial blood circulation can be another potential cause of burning in the feet, particularly when the feet are elevated. Other causes of burning feet include thyroid dysfunction and gastric restriction in obesity. Some infectious diseases, such as Leishmaniasis, a rarely reported neurologic change secondary to a bacterial infection, also may cause burning feet.
Treatments vary, depending on the underlying cause of the burning foot syndrome. Diagnostic tests are performed to determine the underlying cause of burning feet before employing a treatment regimen. Your podiatrist might suggest doing a nerve conduction velocity test (NCV) or an electromyogram (EMG) in order to determine if the all of the nerves that go to the muscles in the lower extremities are properly functioning.
Very often there are conditions that affect the lower back and spine (like sciatica) that can cause pain to be referred to the bottoms of the feet, often feeling like a stabbing or burning sensation. This can be particularly difficult to diagnose as very often patients with this kind of referred back pain to the feet will not have any active symptoms of lower-back pain. When someone is worked up for all of the above potential causes of burning feet and nothing is discovered, a presumptive diagnosis of referred lower back pain should be made and a referral to a chiropractor, physical therapist, or a spinal orthopedist should be made.
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