Understanding the Causes of Hot (Burning) Feet at Night
Do you suffer from hot, burning feet at night? The pain can be irritating and disturb your sleep. If this does sound familiar, you might need medical attention. Feet that burn when in bed is often the first sign of an underlying medical condition.
Burning sensations in the feet can be mild or severe. For people in the latter category, hot feet can be quite painful. Even mild burning can be enough to make you feel uncomfortable and restless.
Sometimes hot feet at night might be nothing more than your feet overheating because of the temperature. This can certainly be the case during warmer weather. Perhaps your feet have not cooled off since you took a hot bath?
People that are physically active and apply pressure to the feet can sometimes experience this issue. It is also possible for people that have jobs that involve a lot of standing to experience boiling hot feet.
However, in most cases, burning foot pain is due to an underlying medical condition. A common cause is nerve damage. If the burning is accompanied by tingling, pins and needles or numbness, seek out medication.
In this guide, we will discuss common causes of burning feet and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Are My Feet Hot at Night?
- 1.1 What Symptoms Are Associated with Hot Feet?
- 1.2 What Are the Most Common Causes of Burning Feet?
- 1.3 What Causes a Burning Sensation in Feet?
- 1.4 Why Do I Have Burning Tingling Feet?
- 1.5 What is Burning Feet Syndrome?
- 1.6 Can Plantar Fasciitis Cause Burning in the Feet?
- 1.7 Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy
Why Are My Feet Hot at Night?
Peripheral nerves in the feet are excellent diagnostic tools. The feet and toenails have been used for thousands of years to identify deficiencies in the body. This is possible because the nerves in the feet communicate with the brain via the central nervous system.
Damage to the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) affects how signals are sent. If something is wrong, signals are either not received correctly or are not sent at all.
Furthermore, nerves can be damaged in a wide variety of ways. In the most serious cases, your muscles will cease to function. Mostly we experience tingling sensations or hot and cold flushes.
Burning feet is subsequently a common complaint. The condition usually occurs at when we go to sleep when the body is rejuvenating. It is at night when you are resting that the body sets to work repairing and readjusting itself.
The most common cause of hot feet at night is due to nerve damage. This can be caused by a number of reasons and is often accompanied by tingling feet, medically known as paresthesia.
If you sense burning, tingling or numbness, take notice of what your body is trying to tell you. The problem could be related to a medical condition that could develop into a serious illness or injury.
What Symptoms Are Associated with Hot Feet?
If you do experience hot feet at night, don’t be too alarmed. Most cases associated with burning feet are treatable. The only serious conditions you need to concern yourself with are Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), stroke or blood clot.
- Pro Tip: Sometimes symptoms of burning feet will come and go. If that is the case the condition is most likely related to your lifestyle. However, you should still pay attention to what your body is saying because you may develop a worse condition. Illnesses that result from excessive drinking and smoking can start with irritable symptoms in your feet. You may just need to look after your body better.
People that are suffering from an underlying medical condition will experience constant burning feet. The pain will vary in intensity depending on the cause and severity of the condition.
You may also experience prickly sensations or numbness, redness, swelling, aches, peeling skin, and a possible change in color.
Although there may not be anything to worry about, treat burning feet seriously. It is always best practice to air on the side of caution and identify a potential medical condition sooner rather than later.
Accurate diagnosis of hot feet is crucial. If you ignore the signs complications can arise. If the problem persists, seek out proper medical attention to prevent further damage.
Let’s take a look at some of the conditions that cause burning feet, what causes them and how they can be treated.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Burning Feet?
More often than not, burning sensations in the feet are caused by neuropathy. According to the Mayo Clinic, Peripheral neuropathy affects an estimated 60-70 of people that have diabetes.
Neuropathy is damaged nerve fibers but treatments can only be prescribed if the root cause of the disrupted nerve is diagnosed. Both feet are typically affected at the same. The pain can come and go or get progressively worse.
In most cases of neuropathy, the nerves in the legs are the first to be affected. Other common symptoms include tingling and numbness. Some people also experience weak legs and altered balance. Your feet may also be sensitive to touch.
- Important: A common cause of nerve damage stems from autoimmune problems. The body needs nutrients to function correctly. If you do not eat sufficient quantities of folate, or vitamins B6 and B-12 you risk nerve damage.
People that suffer from burning feet due to diabetes or neuropathy can be easily diagnosed and treated. However, other causes are more difficult to detect and additional tests are required.
Another common cause of burning feet is excessive bouts of alcohol. Drinking heavily effects the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) which control complex motor functions.
Chronic alcohol abuse will eventually damage the PNS and cause a lack of sensation in the feet and legs.
Other causes of burning feet or neuropathy include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Small fiber neuropathy
- Low thyroid hormone levels
- Lyme disease
- Amyloid polyneuropathy
- Drug side effects
- Chemotherapy treatments
- Metal poisoning
- Vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)
- Sarcoidosis (inflammation of organs)
- Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
- Willis-Ekbom Disease (Restless Leg Syndrome)
There are also several less worrying causes. Even then, the symptoms can be bothersome all the same. For example, hot feet can occur as a product of your job or the type of footwear you wear throughout the day.
For example, if your work involves standing on your feet. Wearing leather shoes with synthetic socks also make your feet hot and can turn into a foot fungus that makes your feet burn. This is a common occurrence in people that have foot infections such athletes foot and toenail fungus.
Some people are even allergic to certain types of footwear which may produce burning or tingling in your feet. Leather tanning agents, glues, and dyes are possible culprits of shoe allergies.
If you notice the symptoms only appear at night after wearing a certain pair of shoes, the reaction could be because your skin is sensitive to the fabric of the shoe.
Understanding the cause of burning feet is the first step to treating the condition. Once you have the correct medical care, the symptoms will fade and eventually disappear. This is a good sign your health is improving.
What Causes a Burning Sensation in Feet?
There is no need to panic. Burning sensations are a common problem and affect people of all ages. Most related conditions are also easily treated.
However, when you do experience this condition, it is best practice to seek medical advice. If the burning persists for at least three days, you should definitely consult a doctor.
Treatments for burning feet vary widely and will depend on the underlying cause. Some cases can be treated with over-the-counter prescriptions or creams. Other remedies can only be prescribed by a doctor.
If you have been experiencing burning in your feet for a prolonged period of times, you should consult your doctor. In the meantime, try these home remedies to help manage any pain or discomfort you are experiencing.
Burning can also occur as a result of gastric bypass surgery. It can also be a side effect of pharmaceutical drugs you are taking for a different condition.
If you are on medication and notice your feet are hot, ask your doctor if the drugs contain anything that may affect your blood flow or nullify nerve signals to your legs and feet.
Why Do I Have Burning Tingling Feet?
While burning alone may not be a cause for concern, if it is accompanied by tingling, you should take more notice. Burning and tingling are usually associated with a medical condition.
- Fact: Research shows that 40% of these cases are caused by immune problems, poor blood circulation, nutritional imbalance, infections, toxins, and tumors. It can also be hereditary.
The most common causes associated with tingling sensations and burning feet is peripheral neuropathy as discussed above. The other common cause is diabetes.
High blood sugar can cause diabetic neuropathy. The condition occurs in 30% of diabetic patients and causes burning sensations in the feet.
Diabetics have to fight to control high levels of glucose. If the nerves do not receive sufficient quantities of oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream nerves can become damaged and fail to send signals from the brain to the body.
More than 20 million Americans are estimated to have peripheral neuropathy, and conditions worsen over time. There are more than 100 different types, and they nearly all cause tingling and burning in the feet.
Why Do I Get Burning Feet at Night Only?
If you recently felt a burning sensation, the problem could possibly be due to a temporary condition. In women, pregnancy and menopause are common causes.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Other reasons for your feet to get hot at night can be due to chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The irony is, burning feet makes you restless and keep you awake at night. Other symptoms of ME/CFS is heavy legs.
In less serious cases, the condition will right itself, so get plenty of rest. If the issue persists for three days or more, and is accompanied by numbness or starts to spread to other parts of your body, consult a doctor.
The majority of cases are easily treatable. Burning sensations in the feet that are due to an underlying medical cause will subside once the condition is treated.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Then there are other conditions that can only be managed. For example, Willis-Ekbom Disease, also known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). This can be an unpleasant experience which gives you an irresistible urge to move your legs.
One of the key symptoms of RLS is hot feet at night. The burning will typically start in the late afternoon or early hours of the evening. The sensation then becomes progressively worse into the night. It is most severe during the night when you are resting.
RLS is characterized as a neurological sensory disorder. The symptoms are produced by the brain which sends false signals to the PNS. The irresistible urge to move is usually accompanied by aching, throbbing or itching sensations in the legs and feet. Some people also complain of burning feet.
RLS is a genetic disorder and is usually hereditary. Symptoms in patients with a family history of RLS will ordinarily start before the age of 40. A contributing fact is low levels of iron in the brain.
Medical researchers have also found considerable evidence that RLS is related to a defect in the basal ganglia. This is a part of the brain that controls movement and secretes dopamine.
Disruption of neural pathways effects the correct flow of dopamine which is needed to aid muscle movement. Therapeutic treatments for RLS are the most effective way to aid the flow energy.
Underlying conditions of RLS are:
- End-stage renal disease and hemodialysis
- Iron deficiency
- Medications that cause side effects
- Excessive use of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine
- Last trimester of pregnancy
What is Burning Feet Syndrome?
Another disease that affects the PNS is Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome, better known as burning feet syndrome.
The condition is usually caused by the mechanical compression of small nerve fibers in the foot which results in sciatic mononeuropathy. This is what causes the burning sensation.
- Important: Medical researchers cannot categorically determine the causes of burning feet syndrome. However, the condition has been linked to vitamin B deficiency, diabetes, psychosomatic causes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid, arthritis, renal failure and abnormal for biomechanics.
Symptoms of Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome usually start in the soles of the feet but can spread up the lower leg during the night.
Other symptoms include pins and needles, and numbness. Patients with psychological issues may also experience psychosomatic symptoms of burning feet.
Treatments include cold water foot baths, vitamin B supplements, cool and soothing foot creams, open shoes, and wearing comfortable socks made from natural fibers.
Can Plantar Fasciitis Cause Burning in the Feet?
If you experience a stabbing pain in your heel, you may have the common foot complaint called plantar fasciitis. The condition is usually felt as a stabbing pain caused by inflammation of the thick band of tissue around the sole of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis typically affects active people that apply a lot of pressure to their feet. It is common among long-distance runners, tennis players, dancers, and tourists that spend hours exploring a city.
Although plantar fasciitis can occur at any age, older people are more susceptible. As we age, the plantar fascia begins to weaken. The plantar fascia is the thick band of skin that stretches from your heel to the front of the foot.
If you regularly apply too much pressure on your feet, the underside of your heel can tear. The damage caused to the plantar fascia will then become inflamed, tender and sensitive to touch.
Sufferers of plantar fasciitis notice it most in the morning when you first get out of bed and put weight on your foot. People with the condition describe a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel.
The stabbing pain often subsides during the day. Instead, you will feel dull, aching pains. The tenderness will reoccur whenever you rest your feet then reapply pressure.
Some people also experience hot and burning sensations in the feet extending out towards the heel. The condition can be treated easily enough by resting your feet and abstaining from activities that are demanding on your feet.
Although plantar fasciitis is not debilitating, complications can result in chronic heel pain that hinder walking, standing, and exercise. If left untreated, you can develop foot, knee or back problems.
Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy
We touched on diabetic neuropathy earlier in the guide, but this is a topic that warrants a deeper explanation. The condition is a serious complaint among diabetics and if left untreated can lead to complications.
If you are not already diagnosed as a diabetic but experience burning feet, numbness and tingling in your toes, consult a doctor. The symptoms may be warning signs and not a result of an active day.
Diabetes is the leading cause of burning feet in the United States. It is also a condition that causes neuropathy. This is a condition resulting from damaged nerves. It causes burning and tingling in the legs and feet.
Furthermore, diabetes is a common medical condition. One in four people is diagnosed with diabetes. One of the first symptoms to occur is hot and irritable sensations in your feet.
What Causes Diabetic Neuropathy?
A complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. This is caused by high blood sugar levels in the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
Symptoms usually start in the feet and legs but can spread to the hands. Associated sensations are burning, tingling, numbness, hypersensitivity and muscle weakness.
Neuropathy can affect any nerve in the body. Nerves that are most susceptible are the ganglia, the spinal cord, and pathways to vital organs. However, the first signs are usually felt in the peripheral nerves of the feet and hands.
Around 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes develop diabetic neuropathy. However, it can take symptoms 10 to 25 years to appear.
How is Diabetic Neuropathy Caused?
Like all parts of the body, nerves require sufficient nutrients in order to function properly. When they are starved of vitamins and oxygen over a prolonged period of time the peripheral nerves in legs and feet become damaged.
The peripheral nerves carry signals from the brain to limbs and muscles. If the nerves do not function properly, muscles receive false signals. In severe cases, they don’t receive the signals at all.
Diabetic neuropathy can, therefore, affect balance and coordination when walking. If left untreated the condition to cause complications such as foot ulcers. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
Diabetics that do not control their blood sugar levels are most susceptible. If you also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or you are overweight, there is a higher risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.
What Are the Types of Diabetic Neuropathy?
There are four main types of neuropathy:
- Peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet
- Autonomic neuropathy which affects fundamental organ function
- Proximal neuropathy in the legs
- Focal neuropathy which can occur in any group of nerves
The symptoms will depend on the type of neuropathy. In the case of diabetic neuropathy, a burning in the feet might develop into other problems such as cardiovascular issues, intestinal problems, constant diarrhea, nausea, muscle pain, and paralysis.
Other symptoms may include:
- A loss of sensation to feel heat, cold or injury
- Loss of balance
- Charcot’s joint which causes a loss of feeling in the hands and feet
Are you experiencing burning feet during the night? If you DON’T have a reasonable explanation for it, you should seek medical advice.
We trust this guide has helped you to better understand why your feet are hot at night and what you can do to treat the issue.