Burning feet

Burning feet cause lots of pain, which often keeps you awake at night. What is it actually? The cause is often unclear; there are many possible reasons for painful burning feet, for example, chronic deficiency of B vitamins. Burning feet is a sign of disturbed functioning of the small skin nerves or the feet nerves that lead to the spine. This type of disturbed functioning is almost always caused by nerve inflammation. Burning feet are also called the Grierson-Gopalan syndrome after the discoverers of this syndrome.

Various causes for burning feet

There are various causes for burning feet. Most of the causes are related to all forms of neuroinflammation and nervous tissue infections. Nerve tissue can become infected, for example, by metabolic disorders and deficiency of vitamins from the B group. Consequently, the Russell Science Group launched the idea of adding specially selected B vitamins to the palmitoylethanolamide in its new product PeaPlex. Metabolism of the nerves might also be disturbed, for example, by thyroid gland disorders, rheumatic arthritis (RA) or diabetes. In such cases, the nerves react by emitting signals that cause a burning sensation.

Burning feet due to constriction of nerves

Constriction of the nerves could also cause burning sensations due to reactive infections. These are infections that are reactions to infections elsewhere in the body. The constriction may occur in the foot if a nerve in the foot constricts and that causes burning feet. In addition, what is known as small fibre neuropathy is also a well-known cause. [1] Even infectious disorders of nervous tissue in the spine bone marrow can be a reason for burning feet. [2] There are also cases where doctors cannot find the reasons for burning feet. Doctors then refer to a syndrome: the burning feet syndrome. [3]

From fungus (Candida) to bad shoes

Burning feet occur more often in elderly persons than in young men and women. The older you get, the more bothersome this condition becomes. The severity of the burning sensation can also vary. Sometimes the person feels only a slight irritation, but at other times this can be fiercely painful as if you’re walking on barbed wire or stinging nettles. Burning feet could be a temporary situation. Sometimes the cause is obvious, such as substances that irritate the skin or bad fitting shoes or a fungal infection (the swimmer’s eczema or Candida). Sometimes these are metabolic disorders, as discussed above, such as diabetes. That is why it is important to first visit a doctor and to get a proper diagnosis – before you start treating yourself.

Burning feet in case of neuropathy and neuroinflammation

In the majority of cases, burning feet occur in certain disorders of the nerves. Take for example diabetic neuropathy and what is known as Chronic Idiopathic Axonal Polyneuropathy (CIAP). The latter is a chronic disorder of the nerves and as yet doctors do not know what causes it. A genetic form of burning feet has also been described, which is a dominantly inherited disorder, but which occurs very rarely. Furthermore, burning feet can occur as a result of vitamin B deficiency. That is one of the reasons that these vitamins are added to the palmitoylethanolamide in PeaPlex. Lastly, there is also constrictive neuropathy of a nerve that runs to the big toe. This is known as the tarsal tunnel syndrome in the foot (similar to the carpal tunnel syndrome in the hand). In the case of tarsal tunnel syndrome, the nerve is pinched in the toes or the ankle and that can also cause burning feet.

The earliest descriptions of burning feet

Burning feet is a condition known for ages. The first descriptions of this condition were based on extremely undernourished patients. Extreme undernourishment causes infections in the nerves. Two doctors, Grierson and Gopalan, were the first to describe burning feet before it became a common subject in medicine. That’s where the name Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome comes from.

J. Grierson: On the burning feet of natives. Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta, 1826, 2: 275-280

C. Gopalan: The “burning feet syndrome.” Indian Medical Gazette, Calcutta, 1946, 81: 22-26. Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1946, 131: 1177

Dr Stannus has written a brief summary about when the term burning feet was first used by doctors. You will find this article below:


[1] Tavee J, Zhou L. Small fiber neuropathy: A burning problem. Cleve Clin J Med. 2009 May; 76(5):297-305

[2] Sethi PK, Kakar A, Sethi NK. Burning feet syndrome as the presentation of spinal arterio-venous malformation. J Assoc Physicians India. 2001 May; 49:586-7

[3] Makkar RP, Arora A, Monga A, Gupta AK, Mukhopadhyay S. Burning feet syndrome. A clinical review. Aust Fam Physician. 2003 Dec; 32(12):1006-9

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