Burning feet syndrome

Experiencing a burning sensation in the feet can be distressing, especially if the cause is unknown. Often described by patients as feeling like one's feet are on fire, this symptom can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. The medical term for this condition is "Burning Feet Syndrome" (BFS).

What is Burning Feet Syndrome?

Grierson-Gopalan syndrome, more commonly known as burning feet syndrome, is a medical condition where individuals experience a burning pain in their feet, which may be accompanied by other symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and redness. The severity and frequency of these symptoms can vary, but for many, it becomes a significant concern that impacts daily activities and quality of life.

Causes of Burning Feet Syndrome

The origins of Grierson-Gopalan syndrome can be multifaceted. Various underlying medical conditions and factors contribute to its onset:

  1. Peripheral Neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy is one of the common causes of burning feet syndrome or Grierson-Gopalan syndrome. This condition arises when the peripheral sensory nerves, which link the spinal cord to limbs, undergo damage. Prolonged diabetes, accompanied by a history of elevated blood sugar, increases the risk of peripheral neuropathy. Over time, this diabetic peripheral neuropathy can progress and become more severe.
  2. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): CKD is a long-term condition where the kidneys don't work as well as they should. The primary role of the kidneys is to filter out waste and excess substances from the blood. When the kidneys are compromised due to CKD, they struggle to perform this vital function. This inefficiency can lead to accumulating waste products and toxins in the bloodstream. High levels of these waste products can harm various body systems, including the nervous system. As toxins accumulate, they may irritate or damage the peripheral nerves, which can manifest as Burning Feet Syndrome. Individuals with advanced stages of CKD may be at a higher risk for developing Grierson-Gopalan syndrome, making it crucial to monitor and manage their kidney health under a healthcare professional's guidance.
  3. Alcoholism: Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can have numerous harmful effects on the body. One of the lesser-known complications of chronic alcohol abuse is its potential to cause peripheral neuropathy. The exact mechanism isn't fully understood, but alcohol is believed to have a toxic effect on nerve tissue. This toxicity can lead to nerve damage and, in some cases, the onset of Grierson-Gopalan syndrome. 
  4. Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, plays a pivotal role in metabolism, growth, and development. When thyroid hormone is deficient, many body functions slow down. One of the effects of hypothyroidism is fluid retention, leading to edema (swelling) in various body parts. Swelling in the feet and lower legs can compress the peripheral nerves. This added pressure can lead to nerve irritation or damage, resulting in symptoms such as a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness. It's important for individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism to monitor any unusual sensations in their extremities and report them to their healthcare provider, as burning feet syndrome could be an associated symptom of their condition.
  5. Morton's Neuroma: This condition manifests when nerve tissue thickens between the base bones of the toes, inducing pain, tingling, burning sensations, or numbness in the ball of the foot, which might radiate to the toes. Several factors can prompt Morton's neuroma. Ill-fitting, tight shoes are frequent causes. However, sports injuries, undue foot stress, irregular foot positioning or movement, and diminished fat pads at the feet's base can also contribute to Morton's neuroma.
  6. Vitamin Deficiencies: B vitamins help keep our nerves healthy. They support nerve signals and protect nerve fibers. Our nerves can get damaged if we don't have enough of these vitamins. This can lead to burning feet syndrome, causing pain and a burning feeling in the feet. It's important to check for B vitamin levels if someone has Grierson-Gopalan syndrome. Treating this deficiency can reduce symptoms and stop further nerve harm.
  7. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: The tarsal tunnel is located within the ankle, adjacent to the ankle bones. Any undue compression of the posterior tibial nerve — situated behind the shinbone — within this region can elicit burning, tingling, or pain in varied foot regions. In certain instances, the effects extend to the inner ankles and the calves.
  8. Athlete's Foot: Dermatophytes, a mold-like fungi, primarily cause Athlete's foot. These fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, such as damp footwear. Such an environment enables these fungi to grow and spread. Those afflicted with Athlete's foot often experience symptoms like itching, a burning sensation, and a prickly feeling, especially between the toes and on the foot's sole.
  9. Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disorder: As an inherited neurological disorder, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder wreaks havoc on the peripheral nerves in the legs and feet. Over time, the damage exacerbates, impacting both the muscular and nerve functionalities in the extremities.
  10. Other Contributors: Several other factors can cause nerve damage, resulting in burning feet syndrome. This includes certain chemotherapy drugs, hereditary conditions, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and exposure to detrimental chemicals.

Symptoms of Burning Feet Syndrome

While the most evident symptom is a burning sensation, other symptoms can accompany BFS:

  • Tingling or "pins and needles" feeling.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Increased sensitivity to touch.
  • Numbness.
  • Change in the color of the feet.
  • Increase in foot temperature.

It's essential to note that symptoms might worsen at night, causing sleep disturbances.

Burning feet

Diagnosing Burning Feet Syndrome

If you're experiencing symptoms associated with burning feet syndrome, seeking medical advice is imperative. A doctor will begin with a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. They may inquire about the burning sensation's onset, duration, severity, and nature.

Tests that might be recommended include:

  • Blood tests to check for diabetes, kidney function, vitamin deficiencies, and thyroid function.
  • Nerve function tests to determine nerve damage.
  • Skin biopsies to evaluate the nerve endings in the feet.

Treatment and Management of Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome

Treatment for burning feet syndrome largely depends on the underlying cause. Addressing the root of the problem is often the most effective way to alleviate symptoms:

  1. Control Blood Sugar: For diabetic patients, maintaining blood sugar levels can prevent further nerve damage.
  2. Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers might be beneficial for mild symptoms. For more severe cases, doctors might prescribe drugs like anti-seizure medications or antidepressants, which can alleviate nerve pain.
  3. Topical Treatments: Creams and ointments with capsaicin can relieve pain.
  4. Vitamin Supplements: If burning feet syndrome results from a vitamin deficiency, supplements can help restore nerve health.
  5. Physical Therapy: Physical therapists can suggest exercises to maintain foot health and reduce pain.
  6. Foot Care: Keeping feet clean, dry, and protected can alleviate symptoms. It's also essential to wear comfortable socks and shoes and avoid prolonged standing.
  7. Limit Alcohol: Reducing alcohol intake can help in cases where alcoholism is the root cause.
  8. Alternative Therapies: Some people find relief with treatments like acupuncture, biofeedback, or meditation.


While it's impossible to guarantee prevention, the following can minimize risks:

  • Regular checkups, especially for those with underlying conditions like diabetes.
  • Opting for well-fitting, comfortable and breathable socks and shoes.
  • Keeping feet dry and clean.
  • Checking feet daily for potential issues.
  • For people with diabetes, blood sugar management is crucial.

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

Persistent, worsening, or non-responsive symptoms of burning feet should prompt consultation with a healthcare professional. This syndrome can indicate serious medical conditions like diabetes, peripheral nerve damage, or malnutrition, necessitating timely diagnosis and intervention.

A Note from Viasox:

At Viasox, we understand the challenges and discomfort of burning feet syndrome. One key factor that can exacerbate this condition is undue pressure on the feet, often caused by restrictive footwear or tight socks. Our non-binding diabetic socks are specifically designed to alleviate this issue. Made with a non-constrictive design, these socks gently conform to the shape of your foot without squeezing or causing pressure points. This ensures better blood circulation and minimizes potential irritations. Additionally, the breathable materials we use help regulate moisture, further reducing the risk of infections like Athlete's foot which can intensify burning sensations. Adding non-binding diabetic socks to your daily regimen can be a simple yet effective step towards providing relief and comfort for those suffering from burning feet syndrome.

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