Is diabetes the only cause of burning feet? Know what an expert has to say

Having a burning sensation in feet is not the best feeling in the world. So, know the causes of burning feet and what to do about it.
What causes burning feet
Know what causes burning feet. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 31 Oct 2023, 12:18 pm IST
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Feeling weak and tired, wounds not healing quickly, frequent urination and weight loss without making any effort are just some of the symptoms that diabetics can relate to. Some even feel a burning sensation in their feet. But if you experience burning feet, does that only mean you have diabetes? Turns out, diabetes is not the only cause of burning feet.

Burning feet is a commonly encountered condition in neurological practice, says Dr Mirza Masoom Abbas, Consultant – Neurology, Manipal Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, Bengaluru.

Causes of burning feet

Burning feet results from damage to the small sensory nerve fibers carrying pain and temperature sensation to the brain. Here are some of the causes:

1. Diabetes

It is the most common cause of burning feet, says the expert. Diabetes can cause nerve damage throughout your body, as high blood sugar damages nerves over time.

Woman's feet
Burning feet has many causes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Hypothyroidism

An under-active thyroid is a health condition that produces feet discomfort. It changes the balance of hormones in your body, and can lead to symptoms, including nerve damage.

3. Infections

Nerve damage can happen due to various infections like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Lyme disease and syphilis, and this could cause burning feet.

4. Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people who follow a strict vegetarian diet, and it can cause burning feet, says Dr Abbas. But excess of vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 can also lead to burning feet.

5. Autoimmune diseases

In autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjogren’s syndrome, the body’s immune system damages its own organs like skin, joints and nerves.

6. Excess alcohol

Drinking too much of alcohol and exposure to toxins such as arsenic in water source that is contaminated can lead to a burning sensation in the feet.

7. Kidney disease

Toxins start build up in your blood the moment your kidneys stop functioning properly. One of the symptoms include burning foot, which can be painful.

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8. Athlete’s foot

This type of fungal infection causes dry, flaky skin. You can also notice the soles of your feet turning whitish, and you may also experience burning feet.

Evaluation and correction of underlying cause remains an important first step.
Burning feet usually resolves within a few weeks when underlying condition is rectified. Vitamin supplements can provide relief as well as oral therapy with gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants and local application of capsaicin, says the expert. In case of diabetes or excessive alcohol consumption, it’s all about managing the conditions and making efforts to not damage the nerves further.

Soaking feet in water
Soaking burning feet in cold water can provide some relief. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

Home remedies for burning feet

When you experience burning feet, not only do your feet feel hot, but there is also a sharp pain. You feel like someone is pricking you with needles. To get some relief, you can try these home remedies, but make sure to check with your doctor first.

• Soak your burning feet in cold water for a few minutes.
• Soak your feet in water with Epsom salt, which is often used to ease health problems, including muscle soreness.
• Massage your feet, as this will help to improve blood flow and circulation, but don’t put a lot of pressure.
• Exercise regularly, as it can help to increase blood circulation and bring in more oxygen to your feet.

The burning sensation in your feet can be mild or severe, but don’t wait for it to disrupt your life.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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