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What Conditions Cause Burning Feet and Hands?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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Burning feet and hands can be a troubling condition that can have a variety of causes. Some medical conditions that may be responsible for these symptoms include vitamin deficiencies, menopause, or nerve damage. Alcohol abuse may also be a culprit. Treatment depends on the originating cause of the symptoms and may include the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, lifestyle changes, or magnetic therapy.

Nerve damage is one of the most common causes of burning feet and hands. Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition common in those with diabetes, although it can be present in those without the disease as well. This condition is characterized by damage to the nerves that carry sensory information to and from the brain and the spinal cord. This often results in symptoms such as lack of sensation, problems with muscle control, and pain. Treatment options include the use of medications, physical therapy, and supportive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs.

Vitamin deficiencies may also lead to burning sensations in the extremities. This is particularly true when the body lacks enough vitamin B, particularly vitamins B5 and B12. Blood tests can easily identify a deficiency in these vitamins, and supplements are readily available at most drug stores without a prescription.

Menopause is another common cause of symptoms such as burning feet and hands. This is believed to be due to the hormone fluctuations that are common during this stage of a woman's life. Hormone therapy can often lessen these these symptoms in many women.

Alcohol abuse is known to cause burning feet and hands in some people. Many people are able to help reduce these symptoms by cutting down on alcohol usage, although those who are heavy drinkers may need to stop drinking altogether. Local support groups can often help in this endeavor.

Hypothyroidism is yet another potential cause of burning sensations. This is a condition in which the thyroid glands are not able to produce adequate amounts of various hormones. Symptoms usually occur only if this condition is left untreated. There are a variety of prescription medications available to help treat hypothyroidism.

Strenuous activity can sometimes lead to temporary burning sensations in the hands or feet. Certain chronic medical conditions may also lead to these symptoms. The most common of these conditions are kidney disease or liver disease. Prescription medications can sometimes help to reduce these symptoms. Any questions or concerns relating to these symptoms should be discussed with a medical professional.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On Aug 12, 2012

@pleonasm - Just because it might be a common symptom, doesn't mean people should dismiss it. If you're getting sore hands from typing, you could eventually end up damaging them permanently.

And if someone suddenly develops burning or numbness in their feet and hands simultaneously, it's far more likely to be a symptom of a disease than that they just happened to damage both their feet and their hands through the environment.

By pleonasm — On Aug 11, 2012

@Iluviaporos - It's far more likely that people with numb or burning hands or feet have something other than leprosy. I have friends who ride bicycles over rough terrain and they are always having problems with their hands and feet, just because of the unnatural stress they put them under.

There are all kinds of things you do with your hands in the modern world which aren't really good for them. The most obvious is typing, or using a game console. Your feet get squeezed into shoes and are constantly being beaten against a hard surface, when they were designed to be used in grasslands.

I'm actually surprised that more people don't experience burning hands and feet.

By lluviaporos — On Aug 10, 2012
Actually, the first thing that sprang to my mind was leprosy. This is a disease which isn't much in the news anymore, because it's not very common at all in developed countries.

But it is still found in developing countries, to the point where there are still leprosy colonies to be found. Which is sad because it's completely preventable and treatable, particularly if they manage to get help in time. If they don't get help in time (and a lot of people don't report the symptoms because of the stigma) they can cause nerve damage, which is what causes them to become numb and may cause tingling in the hands and feet.

It's not likely that you'll get it if you're reading this, because it's much more rare than it used to be. But, if you've got numb patches and burning in your limbs, you should definitely go to a doctor.

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