A burning sensation or tingling in your feet is never something to ignore—not that it is ever very easy to do so anyway!
When “burning” is thought of as a symptom, many people may naturally think of athlete’s foot first as a culprit. This is a condition that makes its presence well known thanks to a red, itchy, scaly rash that accompanies it. If you see that, do not hesitate to give us a call if home treatment isn’t working, or your condition is especially stubborn or painful.
But what if there are no real signs of athlete’s foot? What if that burning pain or tingling isn’t accompanied by many other symptoms. It’s just there, perhaps flaring up due to certain triggers such as putting on socks and shoes, or even just having a bedsheet brush against your foot the right (or wrong) way?
If this sounds like you, then a nerve-related condition should be considered as a possible cause. Our office specializes in diagnosing and treating such problems, and they are not something to simply wait on and hope for improvement. We highly recommend contacting us now instead of later!
How Nerves Can Cause Burning and Tingling Pain
The nervous system is divided into two main parts: the central nervous system (our brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nerves run throughout our bodies and, among other things, are responsible for relaying signals back to the central nervous system. Some of those signals involve sensations including pain, temperature, and general touch.
When the peripheral nerves are working as they should, we feel normal sensations as we should. But if something causes damage or distress to a nerve, that can interfere with the signals it sends, causing abnormal sensations of pain, tingling, burning, or numbness. It’s a lot like having a wire on the fritz.
In general, such damage is known as peripheral neuropathy. A number of reasons exist as to why this trouble can happen. A few of the more common include:
- Diabetic neuropathy. Complications from diabetes can damage nerves directly and interfere with the circulation of blood (which is the source of the materials they need to survive). If you have diabetes and are experiencing any trouble with sensation—especially in your feet—it is critical that you see a professional regarding it.
- Trauma to the nerve. Injuries can sometimes cause damage to nerves and have lasting effects after the injury has healed. Similarly, a nerve can sometimes be unintentionally cut during a surgery or “trapped” by scar tissue, causing similar results.
- Nerve compression. Many nerves freely move or glide within certain areas. If they become trapped against a bone, muscle, scar tissue, or other firm spot within the body, that pressure can cause distress and subsequent sensations of burning and tingling. A common area in the foot where this can happen is the tarsal tunnel, located along the inside of the ankle.
- Drugs and medications. Neuropathy can be a side effect of some medications, including forms of chemotherapy. Heavy intakes of alcohol over time can also interfere with nerve health.
The feet are particularly vulnerable to peripheral neuropathy, and there are good reasons for that.
First, the feet are already more prone to weak circulation than other parts of the body, simply due to how far they are from the heart—and the fact that blood has to work against gravity to cycle out. If anything begins to interfere with circulation in the body, the feet often tend to feel it first.
The feet also face heavy impact forces on a regular basis, making them more prone to injuries that can damage the nerves. These factors all add up.
Treating Burning Nerve Pain
The first step in addressing any form of potential nerve pain is properly identifying the condition and its causes. That will help shape the course of treatment we will recommend for you.
In most cases, the primary goals will be treating your pain and other symptoms while slowing or reversing further damage to the nerves.
Conservative methods that may be part of a treatment plan include:
- Physical therapy
- Changes to footwear or activity routines
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid treatments
- Custom orthotics to shift excess pressure away from an overwhelmed area
- Laser treatment to relieve pain and stimulate nerve recovery
In some cases, conservative measures will not have as significant an effect as surgery might. A prime example is a compressed nerve that may require surgery to release. If surgery is an option, Dr. Danciger will openly discuss all of the pros and cons surrounding a procedure, and what you would expect during recovery.
Put Out the Fire
Whatever the source of burning or other unpleasant sensations in your feet may be, we can help you find the cause and treatment!
Call our Palm Desert office at (760) 568-0108 to schedule an appointment, or fill out our online contact form to reach out to us electronically.