Arthritis and burning feet pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Burning feet are a common complaint and can be caused by a number of conditions.

Burning feet is the name of a syndrome- a constellation of symptoms. This problem frequently is most severe at night. It is more common in those over the age of 50 years, but can occur in younger people. Burning feet are more common in those with diabetes as a result of neuropathy (nerve damage).

This condition is sometimes referred to as Grierson-Gopalan syndrome.

Patients complain of symptoms such as: severe burning and aching of the feet, hyperesthesia (painful touch), pain, warmth of the affected foot, and excessive sweating.

The more common causes of burning feet are:

•Standing on your feet all day, particularly if you're overweight.
•Hot weather and sweating can also contribute to this problem.
•Neuropathy that occurs in diabetes
•Other types of neuropathy that occur in chronic alcoholism, vitamin deficiencies (usually B) and heavy metal poisoning
•Blood disorders such as pernicious anemia•Erythromelalgia is a rare circulatory disorder can can cause burning feet
•Reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome that follows trauma (including surgery)
•Nerve entrapment, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is the compression of the posterior tibial nerve at the inside of the ankle joint
•Other causes: If its in the forefoot, it could be metatarsalgia, Morton's neuroma, or bursitis.
•Athletes foot or any other type of fungal infection can also cause a burning sensation in the area of the infection.

Burning feet may also be due to sensitivity to chemicals in socks and shoes (contact dermatitis).

Nerve entrapment due to sciatic nerve compression can also cause burning feet.

Arthritis can also cause burning feet either directly in the case of patients who develop tarsal tunnel syndrome or peripheral nerve entrapment as a result of arthritis... or because of the side effect that sometimes occurs from some drugs used to treat arthritis.

Fibromyalgia is another potential cause of burning feet.

Burning is usually limited to the soles of the feet but may involve the top of the ankles or lower legs. Patients with underlying psychiatric disorders may present with burning feet.

On examination, there are usually very few physical findings. There may be erythema (redness) of the feet. There is usually no local tenderness over the area unless there is an inflammatory process such as bursitis.

General treatment consists of wearing comfortable shoes, especially those with arch supports, and wearing cotton socks. Soaking the feet in cold water (not ice cold) for around 15 minutes can bring symptomatic temporary relief. Avoidance of exposure to heat may be helpful. Certain creams and vitamin B supplements can help reduce burning feet.

With tarsal tunnel syndrome, conservative treatment with arch supports and wider shoes may relieve discomfort. If the burning feet problem is due to flat feet, orthotics may help support the arch.

Analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be needed for the treatment of some of the chronic causes of burning feet.

If due to arthritis, aggressive treatment of the underlying disease should be implemented.

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