When you have a pins-and-needles or burning sensation in your feet, it may be caused by a number of things. This sensation (paresthesia) manifests in a number of ways. It can be the mild, short-term sensations you experience when your foot has “gone to sleep” or it can be long-term and quite painful in nature.
You may experience paresthesia when you are tired or when you’ve been sitting or sleeping in an unusual position for a long period of time. In these instances, the condition is temporary.
In situations in which your symptoms are caused by circulatory problems or nerve damage, paresthesia is quite a bit more serious. If the underlying cause is left untreated, the end result could be permanent damage to the limb or morbidity of the flesh.
Who gets paresthesia?
People of all ages can experience tingling, burning, hot feet from time to time. When underlying systemic conditions are to blame, patients generally tend to be 50 years old or more.
Some of the conditions that can cause paresthesia symptoms are:
- Nerve injuries of the back
In addition to loss of feeling, tingling sensations and burning sensations in the feet and toes, symptoms may also manifest in the hands and fingers. In some instances, symptoms spread to other parts of the body. These symptoms may include:
- Redness & inflammation
- Achiness & swelling
- A feeling of heat
All of these symptoms are potentially serious, and if you experience them you should see your doctor right away. He or she may refer you to a neurologist or podiatrist.
What causes burning feet?
A burning sensation in the feet can because by a number of different things. The experience of burning feet may be inconsequential, or it may be a sign of a more significant medical problem. Here are some of the causes of paresthesia:
- Your problem may be caused by nerve entrapment or may be the result of trauma.
- You may have gout, neuroma, peripheral neuropathy or diabetes.
- You may have been exposed to damaging chemicals or toxins.
- Your problem may be caused by contact dermatitis.
- You may be experiencing a vitamin B deficiency.
- You may be experiencing nerve damage.
- You may have fallen prey to alcoholism.
- You may have a circulatory disorder.
- You may have over used your feet.
- You could have a blood disorder.
- You may be overweight.
It’s easy to see that the causes of paresthesia are many and varied. For example, when your feet are fatigued, a pins and needles sensation is common. This is especially the case if you are out of shape and overweight. Even more so if your work involves spending a great deal of time on your feet. These are all things that you can address with lifestyle change.
On the other hand, if you have a nerve disorder, circulatory condition or other serious problem, you may also experience burning feet. It would be a grave mistake to simply treat the symptom without knowing its cause. This is why it is so important to see your doctor if you experience paresthesia.
How to find out about the cause of your paresthesia
If you experience hot feet and/or tingling in your feet on a regular basis you should see your doctor. He or she will conduct a complete physical exam including reviewing your medical history. Your doctor may also ask you a number of questions about your recent activities and examine your shoes to see if you are wearing improper footwear.
In addition to talking with you and observing your symptoms, your doctor will also perform diagnostic tests. Among these are:
- CT scans
These tests will help rule out trauma, injury and nerve entrapment.
In addition to these tests, your doctor may also take some skin samples. This is especially true if your symptoms include those that might suggest a skin condition, such as eczema or athlete’s foot which can cause a burning sensation.
In addition to skin samples, your doctor may take blood and urine samples. These will help rule out medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes.
Depending upon your doctors’ observations, he or she may also refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. You may be referred to any one of the following:
A thorough health workup is the only way to accurately determine the cause of burning sensations in the feet. Getting a proper diagnosis will enable your doctor to devise an effective treatment plan. It may also save your life because burning feet may well be the harbinger of life threatening illness.
Your doctor will discuss options for treatment with you. If your problem is caused by your footwear, relief may be a simple matter. You must follow your doctor’s advice and acquire and wear the right shoes.
If your problem is caused by a medical condition, your doctor may prescribe medication or other treatments. These may include:
- Prescription creams or ointments
- Custom footwear or orthotics
- Medications for diabetes
- Antifungal medications
- Vitamin supplements
The type of treatment recommended (including any surgery that may be necessary) depends greatly upon the cause of your problem. Proper diagnosis is key to proper treatment.
How to relieve hot feet symptoms until you see the doctor
Generally speaking, there are a number of things you can do to help keep your feet comfortable. In addition to wearing properly fitted, high quality footwear you should:
- Use ointments and creams containing substances such as peppermint and tea tree oil help cool your feet.
- Wear cotton socks or socks made of a moisture wicking material to keep your feet dry.
- Acquire proper orthotics to give your feet the support they need.
- Soak your feet in cool water to relieve burning and itching.
- Put your feet up whenever you have the opportunity.
- Add a vitamin B supplement to your daily diet.
- Do not drink alcohol or illicit drugs.
Things to remember when talking with your doctor
When you go to visit your doctor, be sure to take a list of the questions that you have. In addition to the things you think of on your own, you may also wish to ask the following:
- Could my burning skin be caused by personal care products or laundry detergent?
- Should I use prescription orthotic devices or over-the-counter?
- Should I change my diet to address my problem?
- Should I take vitamin and mineral supplements?
- After the burning is resolved, will it return?
- Should I use ice to treat my problem?
- Am I wearing the right kind of shoes?
Is it always necessary to visit the doctor?
Although anyone can experience hot feet temporarily for a number of fairly innocuous reasons, if you experience paresthesia frequently or over a prolonged period of time you should definitely see your doctor. Ongoing tingling, numbness and burning in the feet is not normal. Your doctor must evaluate your problem and help you find treatment as needed.
As mentioned, burning feet can be a symptom of a more serious problems such as heart trouble, rheumatoid arthritis or neurological disorder. It’s very important that you see your doctor right away to rule out more serious problems.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.