Burning Feet Syndrome

Burning Feet Syndrome Basics

Dictionary Medical

As the name suggests, burning feet syndrome is a disorder in the feet. In the course of the disease, there is usually a painful burning sensation. Sometimes patients also complain of tingling, tension, irritation, itching and reddening of the skin on the feet.

What are Burning Feet?

Burning feet have the medical term burning feet. It usually leads to burning and painful, tingling or itchy feet. According to abbreviationfinder.org, this feeling resembles, for example, “fallen asleep” hands and feet, which “wake up” again in the course of the process.

In addition, there may be redness, swellings or changes on different areas of the skin as well as cyanotic to livid discolorations.

Often this is a reaction to extensive alcohol and / or cigarette consumption. This affects the vascular system as well as the peripheral nervous system.

On the other hand, burning feet can also be an allergic reaction, which is caused, for example, by the materials of the shoes or stockings.


Among the causes of the Burning Feet Syndrome, which do not require any medical treatment, are, for example, the brief squeezing (pressing) of nerves or vessels within the lower leg and foot area.

The reasons for this can be due to tight footwear or clothing as well as cross-legged legs while sitting. Because with the latter, the blood flow from the knee down (important vascular course within the hollow of the knee, circulatory disorders) is impaired.

An extreme and rapid change in temperatures leads in particular to a contraction or expansion of the vessels. In the freezing cold, the body’s vessels contract and the blood flow becomes much slower. At very warm / hot temperatures, the vessels behave in the opposite way in the Burning Feet Syndrome.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

The real burning feet syndrome, which is caused by a vitamin deficiency (usually pantothenic acid), is particularly noticeable at night. Then there is an excruciating burning sensation in the feet, which can only be alleviated by cooling down. The burning feet are often associated with numbness. In addition, dandruff can form as a result of the general drying out of the skin.

Perspiration is also often greatly increased. In addition, muscle cramps, tension and nerve irritation often occur. Furthermore, the symptoms also lead to sleep disorders. Since the real Burning Feet Syndrome is a vitamin deficiency disease, it hardly occurs in industrialized countries today due to adequate nutrition.

Substitution therapy with pantothenic acid is usually no longer sufficient in the existing syndrome to completely cure the disease and relieve the pain. The pain becomes chronic, because the nerve fibers are often already damaged by the deficiency symptoms and the resulting insufficient supply of oxygen to the tissue.

However, there are rare cases where there was also a complete cure. Burning feet can also occur with other diseases. This is not the real Burning Feet Syndrome, but the destruction of the nerve fibers can also be traced back to an insufficient supply of oxygen due to circulatory disorders. However, the burning feet are only a symptom of an underlying disease.

Diagnosis & course

Burning feet syndrome becomes medically relevant when it occurs primarily at night and is noticeable as an extremely painful burning sensation, which can be alleviated with cold treatments. Other side effects are expressed, for example, by scaly skin, whereby the skin loses its moisture and slowly dries out, as well as increased sweat secretion or muscle cramps, sleep disorders and tension.

The development of a burning feet syndrome has not yet been fully clarified, so a clear diagnosis is not very easy. Ongoing studies have also shown that there is an insufficient supply of oxygen in the affected tissue as a result of impaired or reduced blood flow and that nerve fibers are also impaired. A possible trigger for this can be various metabolic disorders and malnutrition.

Burning feet syndrome should be diagnosed by a doctor in order to rule out other diseases (differential diagnosis) that have similar characteristics. Burning feet, in connection with movements that can hardly be carried out (or in the case of extreme pain), can cause deep-lying leg vein thrombosis. In people with gout, this feeling is particularly evident in the big toe. A polyneuropathy is a nerve sensation disturbance, the cause of which can be diabetes mellitus (diabetes).


Burning feet syndrome is characterized by very uncomfortable feelings and pain in the feet. The burning pain and itching result in extremely severe restrictions in the patient’s everyday life. As a rule, he can no longer move freely without being in pain. This affects not only social life but also the workplace.

The quality of life is greatly reduced by the burning feet syndrome. In addition to numbness and redness, there are often psychological problems and depression. Patients withdraw and no longer participate in social life. Here sleep disorders can also occur, which lead to a reduced concentration and an aggressive attitude in the patient.

As a rule, Burning Feet Syndrome can be treated relatively well, so that there are no further complications or complaints after the course of the disease. The therapy itself can take several weeks, however, the pain and symptoms can be treated temporarily with the help of pain relievers. The Burning Feet Syndrome can reappear at any time if the body does not receive certain minerals or vitamins and acids in sufficient quantities.

When should you go to the doctor?

If the sensation of pain occurs more than once, a doctor should always be consulted for feet that tingle or burn, especially at night. The causes are varied, often difficult for the layperson to recognize and sometimes serious.

If the symptoms are only mild at night, preferably while waiting for a specialist appointment, the patient can first try to consume capsules or foods that contain vitamin B12, such as those found in animal products, sauerkraut, beer and algae, and also on Pay attention to your mineral intake with magnesium. Nuts, seeds and dark chocolate contain a particularly large amount of this trace element.

After the referral from the family doctor, it is usually unavoidable to visit a neurologist, diabetologist and a doctor specializing in internal medicine, especially if there are metabolic disorders such as excessive sweating, flaky skin or muscle tension. Often it is damage to the nerves caused by a lack of oxygen (polyneuropathy), as can occur with alcohol abuse as well as with diabetic nerve damage.

Since the “burning feet syndrome” also occurs in high blood pressure or in restleg legs syndrome (“syndrome of restless legs”), this extensive diagnosis by various specialists is necessary.

Treatment & Therapy

In order to clarify the burning feet syndrome by a specialist and to start treatment, various imaging methods such as scintigraphy or devices for testing vascular and nerve problems such as measuring nerve conduction velocity are available. Usually, however, a detailed description of the person concerned about burning feet when exposed to heat and relief from exposure to cold is sufficient to put the doctor on the right track.

Due to the unexplained development, a treatment is based on two different ways, the general and the special therapy. As an immediate measure, cooling can provide relief from burning feet. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be compensated for orally or by infusion. Acute pain can be alleviated specifically with anticonvulsants (antispasmodic). In addition, acupressure and acupuncture provide significant relief.

A local anesthetic is usually used to treat pain directly. This can be administered on an outpatient basis or during the hospital stay by continuous infusion over a period of around two weeks. In addition, permanent anesthesia or at regular intervals may be necessary to get the symptoms of burning feet under control.

Outlook & forecast

In most cases, burning feet are caused by significant circulatory disorders, so an exact outlook and prognosis depend on the exact cause.

In many cases, a pre-existing burning sensation in the feet is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. The vessels constrict and the blood can no longer circulate properly. If there is no medical or drug treatment in such a case, then in the worst case scenario, permanent consequential damage can occur.

The tissue in the feet is no longer properly supplied with blood, so that it may die. The affected foot turns bluish in color and a feeling of numbness develops. If there is still no medical treatment for these symptoms, the affected foot must be amputated. However, if a doctor is consulted with the first burning sensation in the foot, then the prospect and prognosis of a full recovery look very good.

With the help of medication that stimulates the blood circulation, a quick and targeted improvement can take place. However, the cause of the burning feet should of course also be eliminated, otherwise permanent healing will not be possible. Only through drug and medical treatment can the prospect and prognosis of a quick healing be positively influenced.


To prevent Burning Feet Syndrome, every person should ensure that they have an adequate supply of minerals, vitamin group B and pantothenic acid. This is responsible for various processes within the body, such as growth and reproduction, and in general for healthy physiological functions. Here food supplements are an essential support.


Burning feet can arise due to many different causes. The symptoms often occur in a group of people over 50 years of age. Due to circulatory disturbances may occur to an unpleasant burning sensation that can be eliminated only by an appropriate treatment. In most cases, burning feet are due to a specific vitamin deficiency.

If the cause is known, appropriate treatment can be initiated. However, follow-up care for burning feet is just as important as the treatment itself. Follow-up visits to the doctor should be observed, as repeated illness can be avoided at an early stage. If affected persons also forego follow-up examinations of this kind, there is a risk of recurrence.

Various complications can arise which, in the worst case, can lead to permanent consequential damage. Anyone who suffers from burning feet should continue to have follow-up examinations even after healing has taken place. Complete healing or permanent healing can only be guaranteed with regular check-ups.

If an affected person does not take any follow-up measures, then the respective symptoms can be expected to recur. In addition, a doctor can give advice so that preventive measures can be taken.

You can do that yourself

Ice cubes, cold foot baths as well as cooling foot sprays and lotions from the pharmacy or drugstore help against acute complaints. If the burning feet syndrome is triggered by a lack of vitamins and minerals, naturopathy recommends a change in diet and the use of certain food supplements.

Flea seeds and nettle seeds, which are said to be particularly rich in micronutrients, are recommended. Nettle seeds are available in herbal shops and pharmacies with a large range of medicinal herbs. They can be used like a spice in the preparation of dishes and salad dressings. You can find flea seeds in every organic supermarket. They are usually stirred into muesli or yogurt. Regular consumption of brewer’s yeast, which is rich in vitamins of the B group, is also recommended. Brewer’s yeast is available in tablet or flake form.

If the burning feet are due to a restriction or temporary restriction of the blood flow to the limbs, those affected should pay attention to their posture. When doing a sedentary job, the legs should not be crossed all the time and the feet should rest with the soles on the floor. It is also essential to wear comfortable, temperature-appropriate footwear made of non-irritating materials. Occasional barefoot walking can be helpful, but regular, long-term wearing of high-heeled shoes is counterproductive.

Burning Feet Syndrome