Ask The Doctor

Cool and Soothe Those Burning Feet

Dear Dr. Garner,

I have a problem, and I hope that you can help me. I am 62 years old, and as a postal worker, I am on my feet all day. When I get home, I have the worst burning and tingling that you can imagine in my feet. Sometimes it makes me want to cry.

Many people tell me this is because I have diabetes. I do have diabetes and try to keep it as well controlled as possible.

Is there anything you can suggest that might help me?

Burning Feet

In Bushwick


Dear Burning Feet,

I was just talking about this topic with my good friend and noted podiatrist, Dr. Patrick Grisafi. Before I address the question, I would like to bring to your attention something that our readers might find interesting.

On April 28, the first Health Fair on behalf of parishioners of St. Mel parish, Flushing, will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Father O’Malley Hall in the church basement. Parishioners are invited to attend the health fair. I know that this will be a successful event that will help all those who attend.

Now, back to your question. Burning feet or pins and needles of the feet can range from a mild to a severe condition. It can be something that can come on over a few days and go away, or it can become chronic. It can be caused by something as serious as a stroke or as mild as tired feet.

Possible Causes

I would like to list some of the many causes that have been associated with this condition:

– Blood flow problems

– Gout

– Alcoholism

– Athlete’s foot

– Obesity

– Vitamin B deficiency

– Neuroma (Women who wear a lot of high heels get this condition.)

– Toxins and chemical exposure

– Bad allergic rash on feet

– Trauma/overuse

– Low thyroid levels

It is imperative to find the cause so that the right treatment can be determined. Most people who complain of burning feet are over the age of 50.

Some of the symptoms include: a tingling sensation, swelling and redness, increased sweating, sensitivity to temperatures and a dull, aching feeling.

Some things that you can do to alleviate the burning feet condition include:

• Wearing the proper footwear. Your podiatrist can assist with this.

• Bathing your feet in cool water for an hour at night.

• Elevating your feet while resting.

• Decreasing your use of alcohol/cigarettes.

• Adding orthotics or insoles, which can be obtained through a visit to your podiatrist.

• Wearing socks made of cotton to decrease sweating.

• Exercising your feet by flexing and extending your toes. Ask your family doctor or podiatrist for further information regarding exercising your feet.

Evaluation and Treatment

As you can see from the above list, some of the conditions causing burning feet can be serious and need to be evaluated by a physician. Your doctor will give you a complete examination and evaluate you for any underlying systemic causes, such as diabetes. You and your doctor can then arrive at a plan to help minimize the discomfort.

There is no one size that fits all. Burning feet may feel the same in people, but the cause may be entirely different.

You should see your doctor to help better understand what is causing the problem.

Do not self medicate. Even vitamins can have toxic effects if used inappropriately.

I hope this answer has helped to steer you in the right direction.

I look forward to hearing from you as we start our 18th season of “Ask the Doctor” on The NET, this Tuesday, April 9.

Until then, be well.[hr] Dr. Steven Garner is a Fidelis Care provider who is affiliated with New York Methodist Hospital, Park Slope. He also hosts “Ask the Doctor” on NET, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Ch. 97 Time Warner and Ch. 30 Cablevision.

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