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Best Home Remedies for Burning Feet

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Burning feet, a common complaint from your grandparents or even parents, should not be ignored. While it may seem harmless, it may be due to an underlying medical condition. It is referred to as burning feet syndrome or Gierson-Gopalan Syndrome. Although it is a common complaint, historically it has received very little medical attention.1  

Characterised by heaviness and a burning sensation in the legs, it can be due to various unrelated medical conditions. The heat and pain felt may not only be restricted to soles of feet, it may be also involve the tops of feet, ankles, and even the lower leg.2  

home remedies for burning feet

Did you know?

What Causes Burning feet? 

A wide range of conditions can be responsible for burning feet syndrome such as: 

  • Nutritional causes: A deficiency of vitamins from the B complex group can lead to burning feet syndrome, particularly riboflavin. It can also occur due to poor absorption of nutrients as seen in malabsorption syndrome.1  
  • Underlying medical conditions: Burning feet may be experienced by people with certain metabolic disorders like diabetes, due to damage of nerves in the region of feet. It is also seen in people with thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism   where there is decreased production of thyroid hormone. 1  
  • Hereditary causes: Sometimes burning feet syndrome can run in families due to its hereditary nature. So, if someone in your family is suffering from this condition, there are chances that you might also experience it.1  
  • Mechanical causes: The compression of a nerve or entrapment of it between muscles, bones etc., can lead to burning feet. It is seen in conditions like tarsal tunnel syndrome, sciatic mononeuropathy and spinal arteriovenous malformation.1  
  • Psychological causes: It was found that burning feet was experienced by people suffering from psychological disorders.1  
  • Other causes: The other, more uncommon causes of burning feet include conditions like erythromelalgia (episodic heat and pain in various body parts), Leishmaniasis (parasitic infestation of body), chronic mountain sickness (in residents of high altitudes), multiple sclerosis (damage of nerve coverings by our own body) and Geitelman syndrome (kidney disorders due to imbalance in electrolyte ions). It is also seen in patients with chronic alcoholism and those who are on dialysis treatment from a long time.1    
  • Idiopathic: Sometimes even after performing various investigations, the cause of the why your feet are on fire cant be found; it is then said to be idiopathic in nature i.e. of an unknown cause.1  

The burning feet and the associated pain significantly when it increases in the night might be indicative of neuropathic pain due to diabetes and you may experience this after suffering from diabetes for 5-10 years. Controlling the blood sugar levels along with specific treatments to reduce burning and pain should be the path forward in the management.

Dr Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D. in Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Symptoms of Burning Feet: 

The following are a few symptoms experienced along with burning feet: 

  1. Feet may feel heavy  
  2. You may experience “pins and needles”, tingling or a pricking feeling in the feet  
  3.   Burning of feet which may aggravate at night  
  4. Sensation of warmth in the feet  
  5. Pain may be of dull aching, sharp or shooting type  
  6. Skin redness, excess warmth or numbness in feet2  

Sometimes due to sudden prolapsed intervertebral disc(slip disc), there can be compression of spinal nerves which can lead to symptoms like burning sensation in the calf and foot, tingling sensation etc. In such cases, if there is loss of sensation over the anal and sexual organ area, one should visit his orthopaedic surgeon asap as it can lead to “cauda equina syndrome”, which can lead to permanent damage of nerves supplying these areas.

Dr. Nikhil Yadav, MBBS MD,CCEBDM

Home Remedies for Burning Feet: 

As burning of feet can be due to various factors, treating the underlying cause is the preferred course of action.2 A few home remedies can help you ease the pain and discomfort. They are as follows: 

1. Epsom Salts:

Epsom salt is a natural source of magnesium sulphate. It is commonly used by people when taking foot baths. We can make use of it by adding some Epsom salt in water and soaking your feet in it for a few minutes each day.   NOTE: The use of Epsom salt increases the risk of damage to feet in patients with diabetes. Therefore, please check with your doctor before using it if you have diabetes.    

2. Ice Bath or Cold Water:

Soaking your feet in cold water provides temporary relief to the pain and burning sensation. In addition to soaking of feet in cold water, drinking a lot of water is helpful too.  

3. Ginger:

Ginger has various medicinal properties and is used widely in Ayurveda. Ginger extract is soluble in water and oil and when applied to the skin, it is readily absorbed. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and this might be the reason for its pain-relieving effects. It may be used for the treatment of burning feet as well owing to this anti-inflammatory property.3  

4. Ginkgo:

Gingko is an herb and it has protective properties towards the nerves. It was found to be effective in treating conditions like dementia and focal cerebral ischemia (decreased blood flow to parts of brain). This nerve-protecting action of Ginkgo is due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and certain enzyme inhibiting properties. It can help with burning feet, associated with damage of peripheral nerves.4    

5. Black Cumin:

One of the reasons for the occurrence of burning feet is diabetes; black cumin is found to decrease blood sugar. It also increases the availability of insulin. This effect is extremely beneficial for the nerves in the feet. In animal studies, black cumin was also found to reduce pain, however, further research in humans is required to prove this.4  

6. Holy basil or Tulsi:

The scientific name of holy basil is Ocimum sanctum. It has been used in India since a long time to treat many diseases. In a study, it was found that Tulsi is effective in reducing pain in legs caused by sciatica. It is also effective in reducing pain caused due to peripheral nerve damage which is a common cause for burning feet.4  

7. Citrullus Colocynthis:

Commonly known as bitter apple, Citrullus colocynthis,   is used to relieve pain. It has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. In various studies, it was found that bitter apple is effective in relieving pain in painful diabetic polyneuropathy (PDPN; nerve damage due to diabetes). When bitter apple was applied to the area it offered pain relief.4  

8. Turmeric:

Turmeric has properties which are helpful against inflammation (anti-inflammatory), infections (antibiotic) and neutralises free radicals present (antioxidant). This is due to the presence of a bioactive compound called curcumin in turmeric. Studies have shown that it is effective against diseases of the nerves and neurons and also prevents their development.4 We can use it by making a thick paste and applying it as a pack and by including it in our diet.    

9. Apple Cider Vinegar:

Adding apple cider vinegar to warm water and soaking our feet in it is said to provide relief from burning feet. There is no scientific evidence backing it, but it has been widely used by people around the world.  

Also Read: Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot: Potentially Beneficial Natural Management Options

Other solutions for burning feet:   

1. Foot massage:

Massaging the foot can sometimes provide relief from the burning sensation. The foot can be massaged dry by stroking or along with oils to reduce the friction.  

2. R.I.C.E.:

is an abbreviation for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This method involves giving rest to your feet, then applying ice and compression to it, and lastly, keeping them in a raised position to reduce the swelling.    

Burning feet syndrome, also known as Grierson-Gopalan syndrome, is a set of symptoms in which the feet often become uncomfortably hot and painful. The burning sensation may become more intense at night, with some relief occurring during the day. It is mostly due to nerve damage.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka – MBBS, MD(Pediatrics)

When to Seek Medical Help:    

As burning feet may be an indicator of a serious disease, kindly seek immediate medical attention if the burning, redness or numbness in feet does not subside by self-care methods and home remedies. A doctor can run some tests to diagnose the condition and devise a treatment plan for you.2  

Also Read: Ice Bath Benefits: Immersive Research Into a Cool Therapy

Conclusion: 

Burning feet may be experienced due to various conditions. Whatever may be the cause, the pain and discomfort can be relieved by the use of a few home remedies. However, the underlying cause must be determined and treated. Self-care is the key to relive burning feet on a daily basis.    

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1. What can cause burning feet?  

Burning feet can occur due to a variety of diseases. It can be due to diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, decreased thyroid hormone production, can be due to certain psychological disorders, hereditary, a few rarer syndromes like erythromelalgia, etc. If you experience burning feet, then make sure you consult your doctor to diagnose the cause.1 

2. Can burning feet be relieved by use of moisturiser?  

No. The burning caused due to burning feet syndrome cannot be relieved by the use of a moisturiser. 

3. Is burning feet due to hot weather?  

Burning feet due to burning feet syndrome is not reported to be caused due to hot weather. It is mainly caused due to the damage of the nerves in the peripheral region (peripheral neuropathy), closer to the skin, as seen in various conditions like diabetes, compression of nerves in tarsal tunnel syndrome etc. 1 

4. Can ginger be applied on skin of feet when it feels like they are burning?  

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and provides pain relief. In various studies, it was found that ginger can be applied to relieve muscle pain; therefore, it might be useful in healing burning feet.3 

5. Is kalonji good for burning feet?  

Yes. Black cumin, also called kalonji, reduces blood sugar, and diabetes is one of the causes for burning feet. Thus, kalonji can be used to treat burning feet syndrome.4 

6. Is burning of feet due to cataract?  

No. There are no reports of occurrence of burning feet due to cataract. 

References: 

1. Shrivastava GP. Burning feet syndrome. Indian Pr [Internet]. 1974;27(8):383–9. Available from: https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/a9867294-c8fc-4586-9301-fed416d14cba/20031218makkar.pdf 

2. Burning Feet Syndrome (Grierson- Gopalan Syndrome) [Internet]. Cleveland clinic. p. 1–11. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17773-burning-feet-syndrome-grierson-gopalan-syndrome#:~:text=Burning%20feet%20can%20be%20a,on%2005%2F14%2F2018 

3. Therkleson T. Topical ginger treatment with a compress or patch for osteoarthritis symptoms. Journal of holistic nursing. 2014 Sep;32(3):173-82. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4230973/pdf/10.1177_0898010113512182.pdf 

4. Forouzanfar F, Hosseinzadeh H. Medicinal herbs in the treatment of neuropathic pain: a review. Iranian journal of basic medical sciences. 2018 Apr;21(4):347. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960749/pdf/IJBMS-21-347.pdf 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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