The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Do You Have Burning Foot Pain? Find Out What Could Be Causing Your Foot to Burn, Ache, or Throb

Posted by on Monday, November 30th, 2015


Burning, aching, throbbing, tingling, and general pain are common complaints that bring patients to a podiatrist’s office. Often the patient experiences burning in the ball of the foot, with pain extending up through the toes or even into the legs. The throbbing intensifies when walking on hard surfaces, running, or when barefoot. It may feel like one’s socks are bunched up beneath their feet or they are walking on stones. Sometimes the pain is so severe, it disturbs their sleep with night spasms. What might cause such irritation? NYC podiatrists from The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine have the answer and can help diagnose, as well as treat, these symptoms.

Metatarsalgia: Common Culprit Behind Throbbing and Burning Foot Pain

The culprit of these symptoms is often referred to as “metatarsalgia.” These kinds of spasms are related to foot and leg muscle strain. The throbbing, aching, or burning sensation occurs when abnormal stress is applied to the ball of the foot, causing inflammation and injury to the skin, nerves, muscles, and bursas of the foot.

The cause of such pain is often a genetic condition, like a shortened first metatarsal bone (“Morton’s Toe”), an unusually long second toe, or hypermobility in the first toe. Often, all it takes is a simple toe pad to realign the foot and remove the pressure. More than half the time, metatarsalgia is a secondary issue related to rheumatoid arthritis or sesamoiditis.1 For more information on metatarsalgia, take a look at another one of our posts.

Alternate Diagnoses

There are other foot problems with symptoms similar to metatarsalgia, so if you suffer from the aching, throbbing, burning, or tingling pain for more than a month — and it is not resolved with rest, a change in shoes, anti-inflammatory medication, icing, and elevating the feet — it’s time to come see our NYC podiatrists.2

We can run a computerized gait analysis test to identify which parts of the foot are absorbing the brunt of the pressure as you move and we can also perform imaging tests (x-ray or MRI) or ultrasound to make sure there are not fractures, metatarsal drop, or toe length abnormalities contributing to your pain.3 Blood tests can rule out culprits like gout, diabetes, or arthritis.


A customized shoe insert can alter pressure distribution, relieving pain and inflammation. According to Podiatry Today, “An orthotic prescription for metatarsalgia should involve a semi-rigid device, minimum arch fill, a wide plate, a metatarsal pad or bar, a rearfoot post with standard heel cup depth, and a full-length cushioned topcover using Poron, Plastazote or closed-cell Neoprene.”4 We can set you up with just such a device in our Manhattan or Westchester offices.

Alternative Therapies

Laser pain relief is another therapy we offer our patients.5 Specific wavelengths of light have been shown to have an inflammation and edema-fighting effect on the tissues. The laser energy penetrates deep into the tissue to accelerate cell reproduction, growth, and recovery. From there, we use physical therapy to increase range of motion, strengthen toe flexor muscles, and reduce stress on the forefoot. In very rare cases, steroid injections or surgical correction may be necessary. Related surgeries include: hammer toe correction, nerve impingement removal, metatarsal bone reshaping, or tendon release.

Get Help for Burning Foot Pain in NYC

Our comprehensive foot care team consists of board-certified podiatrists and surgeons, physical therapists, sports medicine trainers, lab technicians, and front office staff to assist your every need — from diagnosis and acute emergency care through treatment and rehabilitation. Our approach begins as conservatively as possible, using practical at-home care recommendations, along with the latest non-invasive tools and techniques the industry has to offer. We want to alleviate your suffering as quickly as possible, so we take that into consideration when dealing with chronic pain as well. Contact us to schedule an appointment.


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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.