Do Your Burning Feet or Numb Toes Need to See a Doctor? Here’s How to Know

Numbness, tingling of the toes or a burning sensation in the feet are collectively known as paresthesia. It can result from many causes, and its significance can vary from trivial to life-threatening. So how can you tell numbness, tingling, and burning that can be safely ignored from that which requires a doctor’s attention?

Burning Feet Causes, University Foot and Ankle Institute

A burning sensation in the feet are usually caused by a problem in the foot’s nervous and/or vascular systems

Lack of sensation in the toes or a burning sensation in the feet are usually caused by a problem in the foot’s nervous and/or vascular systems. Here are some of the more common sources of such problems:

  • Peripheral blood vessel disease
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Frostbite
  • Traumatic nerve compression
  • Compression of nerves or blood vessels caused by badly fitting footwear
  • Sciatica, and other spinal issues
  • Osteopathic deformity, such as bunions
  • Inflammation of blood vessels
  • Damage caused by alcoholic neuropathy

Another common cause of paresthesia is tarsal tunnel syndrome, a foot condition similar to the more widely known carpal tunnel syndrome, (which occurs in the wrist and forearm). The tarsal tunnel is a space between the bones on the inner side of the foot near the ankle. One of the nerves passing through the tarsal tunnel is the tibial nerve; when it is compressed, you can feel numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in your feet.

Treatment Options for Toe Numbness and Burning Feet

Whatever the precipitating cause may be, improving your diet and increasing healthy physical activity are often a good start toward recovery.

However, intense exercise or athletic activity can result in compressed nerves and blood vessels in the feet. This type of numbness will generally subside with time and rest, so the appropriate treatment is usually to just wait a while.

If burning foot pain and numbness of the toes are symptoms of a diagnosed condition, such as blood vessel disease, sciatica, or diabetes, the best treatment is to simply follow the care program prescribed by your treating physician.

In rare cases, numbness and burning pain can be an indication of a serious medical issue. If these symptoms feel like they are progressing up your legs, it’s possible you could be experiencing the onset of a stroke or heart attack. If the symptoms severely increase, and are accompanied by facial drooping, muscle weakness, blurred vision, loss of balance, or difficulty in speaking, call 911.

We Are Here to Help Care for Your Numb Toes and Burning Feet

For severe or chronic numbness and burning pain, your podiatry team at UFAI is available to alleviate the problem. We will perform a comprehensive examination, and in some cases we will utilize x-rays and/or MRI imaging to clearly reveal the root cause.

Once we discover the origin of the problem, we have a wide array of treatment options from which to choose. Physical therapy, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and, in more serious cases, a minor surgical procedure to relieve pressure on the affected nerves and/or blood vessels, are all available.

The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute have decades of combined experience diagnosing and treating toe numbness and burning foot pain. If you would like more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 475-1678 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
Dr. Bob Baravarian and the UFAI Education Team

10 comments

  1. It’s good to know about foot pain, and what to do if you have it. I have numbness in my toes sometimes, but I haven’t thought much of it. If it could be caused by inflammation of the blood vessels, or nerve compression. I should just see a doctor!

  2. Have burning sensation in third and fourth toes on right foot from time to time. Had surgery on foot 10 years ago for morton neuroma. 84 years old. No other problems

    • Please find a doctor near you that you can trust and has the experience in treating this. If you are nowhere near us, you can email us and we can let you know if we know of anyone near you. Take care of yourself!

  3. Jerome D McLaren

    I have ask my Doctor about the Numbness and he hasn’t offered any help?

    • If you are not near us, which I am assuming, my recommendation to you is rather simple, find another doctor. And do not stop looking for an answer to your situation until you find someone who can help you. You need to be your own best and most loyal advocate, so please do not stop trying to get yourself better.

  4. I’ve experienced such intense foot pain that in the past I had to curtail my gardening activities. Better shoes have given me back my gardening life.

  5. Hi,I read your article Burning Feet or Numb Toes: Causes, Treatments and When to See the Dr.” and others almost every week. Your story-telling style is witty, keep it up!

  6. Brian Greenhalge

    I have burning in the 4th and 5th toes on my right foot. i never had this problem in the past until I cut my toe nail back a little far into the quick , then it started burning and hasn’t stopped. I bought some Nike shoes for work but maybe there to tight. I am going to try a little wider fit shoe because. when i put on my sandals or go bear foot the pain goes away.

    if this does not help me i will be contacting you again , what do you think?

    • Hi Brian,

      You seem to have the right approach, try what you can, see what works and if you are not getting better or “healed,” then see a doctor. Of course I would say that, but it really is true, you are responsible for making sure you get the help you need. That is unless you are a kid, then we can blame the parents! 🙂

      Take good care of yourself and we are here when you need us. Be well.

  7. I have been dealing with this burning for years. About 2 years ago I was prescribed Lyrica 300mg. Sometimes my pain was so out of control that I would take two. I have not yet seen anyone suggest MAGNESIUM OIL SPRAY. but please try this.

    I found this out about a week ago when I threw my back out and used it to spray on my back and it helped. I don’t have diabetes and doctors don’t know why I’m going through this pain.

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