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Burning Feet: Reasons You Feel Pain

Posted by:

Johannes Sauer

Published at: June 07, 2024

Table of Contents
  1. Burning Feet: Reasons You Feel Pain

  2. What is Burning Feet Pain?

  3. Why is Burning Feet Pain Worse at Night?

  4. Causes of Burning Feet at Night?

    1. Diabetic Neuropathy

    2. Other Neuropathy

    3. Excessive Alcohol Use

    4. Anemia

    5. Athlete’s Foot

    6. Medications

  5. How is Burning Feet Diagnosed?

    1. Tests

    2. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Burning Feet: Reasons You Feel Pain

A burning sensation in your feet can make it difficult to focus during the day or sleep restfully at night. It can interfere with your quality of life, making you desperate for relief.

Let’s explore some of the top reasons you may experience burning feet.

What is Burning Feet Pain?

Burning feet pain is exactly what it sounds like—a painful burning sensation that you feel in one or both of your feet.

The sensation may be mild, moderate, or severe. It might come or go, or be constant.

Why is Burning Feet Pain Worse at Night?

Adult male getting lower leg massage

Jun 7, 2024

Many patients notice their burning feet pain more at night. There are many possible reasons why this type of pain could increase at night. For example, Cleveland Clinic points out that neuropathic pain can worsen at night due to factors such as a lack of distractions or exposure to cooler temperatures. 

When nerves are damaged, researchers theorize that they may respond to cold temperatures by sending pain signals, intensifying burning pain. 

Causes of Burning Feet at Night?

Now that you know more about what burning foot pain feels like and how it can affect you especially at night, let’s discuss some of its potential causes.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is experienced when chronically high blood sugar levels lead to nerve damage especially in the legs or feet. Around half of people with diabetes experience this type of nerve damage.

There are multiple types of diabetic neuropathy, one of which is peripheral neuropathy. That is when the nerve damage is in your extremities. Burning foot pain, tingling, numbness, heightened sensitivity, reduced temperature sensations and cramps are all possible symptoms. Some people may also develop foot ulcers and other types of damage to the foot. 

One thing that is important to understand about diabetic neuropathy and burning foot pain is the potential involvement of vitamin B12 deficiency.

This study explains that vitamin B12 deficiency and peripheral neuropathy are linked. Moreover, some of the medications used by patients with diabetes can result in vitamin B12 deficiency. 

The researchers discovered that supplementing with vitamin B12 helped patients with diabetic neuropathy to experience less pain and an overall reduction in neuropathic symptoms.

Other Neuropathy

Sometimes, burning foot pain may be caused by peripheral neuropathy that is unrelated to diabetes.

Neuropathy from injuries can sometimes decrease if the nerves heal properly over time. But sometimes the damage and the symptoms are chronic or lifelong. Healing can take years, however, so if you were injured in the recent past, try to be patient. You may yet see improvements.

Excessive Alcohol Use

Peripheral neuropathy can even develop through excessive alcohol intake causing damage to nerves in the extremities. This type of neuropathy is called “alcoholic peripheral neuropathy.” 

The solution in this case is simple, though it may not be easy, and that is to stop drinking excessively. If you are addicted to alcohol, you will need to stop drinking entirely.

Young male adult drinking a vodka drink outside

Jun 7, 2024

Chances are good that your excessive drinking is causing other problems for your health as well. So, quitting is not only likely to improve your neuropathy, but also other issues you may be experiencing. It is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. 

Anemia

If you have iron deficiency or anemia, you may experience some unusual peripheral symptoms. WebMD mentions tingling and pins and needles sensations affecting hands or feet. But some patients may experience it as a burning pain.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection. You are especially likely to experience it if you regularly use public showers. It produces a rash that is likely to be very itchy, but may sometimes also produce painful sensations such as burning or stinging. 

If you think you have Athlete’s foot, you can try applying an antifungal over-the-counter powder. If you notice a marked improvement, that was probably what was going on.

Medications

Close up of Yellow Pill on yellow background

Jun 7, 2024

Cleveland Clinic says that chemotherapy drugs or “other medications” may lead to burning feet in some cases. Look up the possible side effects for any medications you are on to see if they could be the cause of your burning feet.

How is Burning Feet Diagnosed?

Burning foot pain itself is a symptom, rather than a specific condition. So, the goal of diagnosis is for your doctor to figure out what condition(s) are causing your burning feet sensations.

This process will begin with a simple physical examination. During the exam, your doctor will ask you questions to try and determine the context around your burning feet.

In some cases, this type of exam may be all it takes to reach a diagnosis—especially with a simple cause such as Athlete’s foot. But if it is not, additional tests may be required.

Once your doctor helps you establish the likely cause for your burning foot pain, you will be able to work together to come up with a treatment plan to effectively manage your symptoms.

Tests

You will usually need to have some blood work done, including a complete blood count (CBC). Serum and urine electrolyte tests are common too.

If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a couple of other types of tests, such as a nerve conduction velocity test and electromyography.

With electromyography, a needle with an electrode is pushed into your muscle through your skin. Contractions and relaxations in the muscle can be measured, which provides information about the cause of the burning sensation.

A nerve conduction velocity test is even less invasive, with no needles required. Instead, you just wear some electrodes, which detect the speed at which your nerves are conducting electrical impulses. 

Your doctor may have enough information through one or more of these tests to make a formal diagnosis for the cause of your burning pain.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

As vitamin B12 deficiency is sometimes a culprit in burning foot pain, your doctor may give you a blood or urine test to try and check if you are lacking in this key nutrient.

If the test finds that you are lacking in vitamin B12, you may need to start taking vitamin B12 supplements.

Woman hold a small bottle with supplements

Jun 7, 2024

You can also try to increase the amount of vitamin B12 you are getting in your diet. Some foods that are particularly high in vitamin B12 include beef liver, claims, oysters, nutritional yeast, salmon, tuna, beef, milk and yogurt. Some other options include cheese, breakfast cereal, egg, turkey, tempeh, banana, bread, strawberries, beans and spinach. 

You probably noticed that not a lot of those options are vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, but a few of them are. Still, those may not be sufficient nutrient sources on their own, which is where supplementing comes into play.

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FAQ

What are the symptoms of burning feet for neuropathy patients?

Burning feet in neuropathy patients may be accompanied by additional unpleasant sensations, such as numbness, tingling, and hypersensitivity to touch. The burning pain can be mild, moderate or severe.

Is burning feet a permanent condition?

If burning feet are the result of nerve damage, the nerve damage may be permanent. But there are treatments you can try to manage your condition and alleviate your discomfort.

Can lifestyle changes help manage burning feet?

Yes. You may be able to improve your burning feet by making changes to your diet and exercise, as well as by taking better care of your feet.

Something as simple as wearing shoes for neuropathy could help you to alleviate some of your discomfort as you are walking, and maintain a natural gait. Cadense shoes feature variable friction technology that assists you with moving across uneven surfaces if you have neuropathy-related foot drop.

It might surprise you, but you may be able to increase your mobility and decrease your pain through regular exercises if you have neuropathy. Comfortable shoes make it easier to commit to a regular workout routine.

One other thing you can do is start eating a diet that is suitable for neuropathy. Try increasing your intake of B vitamins, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium.

Are there any home remedies that help alleviate burning feet?

Some people report that they experience some relief from their burning feet by soaking their feet in cold water, or by applying ice or Epsom salts.

Posted by: Johannes Sauer

CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense As the CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense Inc., Johannes is proud to drive forward their mission of enhancing mobility and improving lives through innovative adaptive footwear.

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