The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Do Your Feet Feel Like They Are On Fire? 3 Possible Causes.

Posted by on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

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There are two types of burning on your feet. In one scenario, your feet were actually burned with fire, scalding liquid, or UV radiation from the sun. In another scenario, you may just feel as though your feet are “burning and tingling,” with no visible evidence. This is a common complaint heard in a podiatrist’s office. Here are three possible causes of this uncomfortable sensation.

Neuropathy

One of the more common causes of burning in the feet is injury to a nerve or loss of nerve function. This condition is called “neuropathy” and is especially common in diabetics, alcoholics, sciatica sufferers, AIDS patients and people undergoing Chemotherapy. In the case of diabetics, blood glucose changes affect nerve cell metabolism. Certain disease-related causes of neuropathy (such as Guilliard-Barre and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) flare up mostly at night. A third of all cases can’t be pinpointed to a particular cause. To treat the symptoms of neuropathy, you may need to change your diet, take a vitamin supplement, or take painkiller medication. Disease-related neuropathy is often treated with autoimmune drugs.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a tinea fungus infection — similar to “jock itch,” but on the foot instead. In addition to the burning and stinging sensation, you’ll also notice redness and inflammation in between the toes and possibly along the sides of the feet as well. The skin is usually cracked, peeling and flaking as well. You will need to use a daily over-the-counter cream containing miconazole, clotrimazole or tolnaftate for one or two weeks to control the infection.

Arthritis

Inflammation, swelling, pain and stiffness are common symptoms of arthritis. “About 90% of people with rheumatoid arthritis eventually develop symptoms related to the foot or ankle,” according to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. You may also feel tired, feverish and low on appetite. Pain may start in the toes or a particular joint of the foot and spread outward. Treatment includes medication, steroid injections, special shoes and physical therapy exercises. In some cases, joint replacement surgery can relieve the severe pain of arthritis.

In addition to these three common causes of burning and tingling in the feet, you may also have plantar fasciitis, a vitamin deficiency, circulatory problems, a nerve impingement, nerve system dysfunction, Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease, gout, kidney failure, complex regional pain syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, hypothyroidism, or a number of other causes. If a visual inspection in our office does not provide enough clues, we can also take x-rays, blood tests, nerve conduction study tests, electromyography readings, or (in rare cases) a biopsy to diagnose your disorder.

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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.