The Causes of Burning Feet

  • The most common causes of the sensation of burning or aching in the foot are mechanical friction or pressure against the skin, or from compression of nerves in the foot.
  • Pressure against the sides of the foot (as in a shoe that is too tight) will compress the joints in the ball of the foot. This can either squeeze the nerves that run lengthways between the joints, causing a burning sensation within the nerves themselves, or paralyse the action of the foot muscles served by a squeezed nerve.  Tiny areas of blood circulation may be decreased. This, in turn, can cause a muscle spasm, that results in a sensation of burning within that area of the foot.
  • Wearing a safety shoe or boot that is too loose, or incorrectly laced, will allow the foot to slide inside the shoe. An extra pair of innersoles and/or two pairs of socks may be worn if shoes are too loose. Try different lacing techniques to widen the fit of the shoe on the foot.
  • Burning feet may be due to the development of peripheral nerve damage in diabetes or nerve dysfunction in hypothyroidism, or chronic alcoholism.
  • It is important to note that total foot volume increases by 7% after 4 hours of standing, so allowance must be made when fitting new boots for this natural increase in overall foot “size”. Allowance should also be made for the added thickness of socks which are essential when wearing safety footwear. Always try on new shoes in the afternoon, not in the morning!
  • Compression of peripheral nerves in the foot is seen in tarsal tunnel syndrome, as well as in diseases such as, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Nerve entrapment of the sciatic nerve as well as malformation of arteries and veins in the spine can also cause burning feet.
  • Burning feet syndrome may be related to other disorders such as collagen vascular disorders.