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Burning Feet Syndrome

Diabetes | November 18, 2016 | Author: Naturopath


Burning Feet Syndrome

Mayo Clinic defines burning feet as “the sensation that your feet are painfully hot - can be mild or severe”. A pins and needles sensation or numbness, or both, may also accompany burning feet. Burning feet syndrome is most common in people over 50 years, although it can occur in any age group. The symptoms usually worsen at night and improve at daytime.

Causes of burning feet syndrome

Many different causes for this common syndrome have been identified ranging from a deficiency of certain nutrients, diababets, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease and carpul tunnel syndrome being just some common causes.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Several vitamin deficiencies have been associated with burning feet syndrome. These include:

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) 
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
  • Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).

Deficiencies can develop due to reasons such as inadequate intake, different malabsorption syndromes, alcoholism, certain medications, kidney dialysis, and bariatric surgery.


Poor blood sugar control in diabetes can lead to nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy. This serious complication of diabetes causes symptoms such as tingling, numbness, or burning pains in your legs and feet that are usually more noticeable in bed at night.

Steps to Help prevent or delay nerve damage:

  • Keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.
  • Report symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. If you have problems, get treatment right away.
  • Take good care of your feet. Check your feet every day. If you no longer can feel pain in your feet, you might not notice a foot injury. Instead, use your eyes to look for problems.
  • Protect your feet. If your feet are dry, use a lotion on your skin but not between your toes. Wear shoes and socks that fit well and wear them all the time. Use warm water to wash your feet, and dry them carefully afterward.
  • Get special shoes if needed.
  • Be careful with exercising.

Alternative treatment for diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). A therapy that delivers tiny electrical impulses to the area of pain through small electrodes placed on your skin.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture may help relieve the pain of neuropathy. 
  • Capsaicin cream. May provide temporary relief of pain when applied to the skin.  
  • Alpha-lipoic acid. Studies have shown that taking this supplement at a dosage of at least 600 mg per day may alleviate neuropathic pain. 


Excessive drinking can damage your nerves, causing tingling and pain in your limbs. This is called alcoholic neuropathy. Furthermore, excessive alcohol intake is associated with nutritional malabsorption of thiamine, niacin and vitamin C, which can contribute to the neurological damage. Abstaining from alcohol and improvement of nutritional intake may improve symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome  

A rare disorder caused by compression to the tibial nerve, as it passes through the tarsal tunnel (also called entrapment neuropathy). There are many possible causes for this disorder, and it manifests in symptoms such as shooting pain in the foot, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation. 

Tarsal tunnel syndrome  Possible treatment options may include:

- anti-inflammatory medications  

- steroid injections into the nerves in the tarsal tunnel to relieve pressure and swelling 

- orthotics

- surgery


A long-term untreated underactive thyroid may be a cause of peripheral neuropathy (damage to your peripheral nerves), leading to the sensation of burning feet. Managing the underlying hypothyroidism by taking oral thyroid hormones often reverse the burning feet symptoms.
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Certain chemotherapy drugs can damage to nerves that control the sensations and movements of our arms and legs, resulting in symptoms such as shooting pain, burning, tingling, and loss of feeling. There is no way to prevent the damage, however there are things that your doctor may do to try to lower your risk, such as giving smaller doses of drugs over a longer time.


An uncommon disorder characterised by burning pain, warmth, and redness of the extremities, which has also been associated with other disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), HIV infection, diabetes, venous insufficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.


Certain gene mutations can lead to sensory symptoms in the feet. No treatment is currently available.

When Should you Seek Medical Care?Self Care for Burning feet

Self care for burning feet include resting and elevating your feet, switching to more comfortable shoes, bathing your feet in cool water and generally supporting your feet.

Seeking Medical Care?

In some cases medical care is necessary, especially if the following occur:

  • An open wound on your foot appears to be infected, especially if you have diabetes
  • You notice that the symptom is becoming more intense and painful
  • You feel that the burning sensation has started to spread up into your legs
  • You start losing the feeling in your toes or feet  Australia’s best online discount chemist


American Diabetes Association 2013.  Steps to Prevent or Delay Nerve Damage, ADA, retrieved November 7, 2016,

Barclay, GA, Barbour, J, Stewart, S, Day, CP & Gilvarry, E 2008, ‘Adverse physical effects of alcohol misuse’, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, vol. 14, pp. 139-151, doi: 10.1192/apt.bp.105.00126.

Chawla Jasvinder (2015). Nutritional Neuropathy Clinical Presentation: History, Physical, Causes. eMedicine. Retrieved 7 November 2016,

Diabetes Australia 2015, Foot care, DA, retrieved November 7, 2016,

Hanewinckel, R., van Oijen, M., Ikram, M. A., & van Doorn, P. A. (2016). The epidemiology and risk factors of chronic polyneuropathy. European Journal of Epidemiology, 31(1), 5–20.

Makkar, R.P.S.,  Arora, A., Monga, A. et al. (2002), Burning feet syndrome - A clinical review. Australian Family Physician, 31(12).

Mayo Clinic 2014, Burning feet, retrieved November 7, 2016,

Mijnhout, G. S., Alkhalaf, A., Kleefstra, N., & Bilo, H. J. G. (2010). Alpha lipoic acid: a new treatment for neuropathic pain in patients with diabetes? The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, 68(4), 158–62. Retrieved from

National Organization for Rare Disorders 2015. Tarsal Tunnel syndrome, NORD, retrieved 7 November 2016, <>

Saliba, A. N. (2015). Erythromelalgia. (2015). eMedicine. Retrieved 7 November 2016,

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