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Can Diabetes Cause Your Feet to Burn?

Burning feet can be caused by diabetes when it leads to uncontrolled peripheral neuropathy and associated nerve damage over a long period of time.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Kirsty Macdougall - Editor for Upstep
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published April 25, 2022.

Burning feet is a common condition that consists of a group of symptoms, including severe burning and itching and an aching sensation in the feet. This condition is also known as Grierson Gopalan Syndrome and is often caused by nerve damage in the feet and legs.

While there are many causes of burning feet, diabetes is the most common cause. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes result in burning feet. Usually, this happens progressively over a long period.

If you have diabetes and begin to notice numbness and a tingling sensation in your hands or feet, consult a doctor immediately to arrest the neuropathy before irreparable damage is done to the nerves.

Symptoms of Diabetes

In the early stages of diabetes, you may notice some cardinal symptoms. When you begin to experience any of the symptoms below, consult your healthcare provider.

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Itchy skin
  3. Blurred vision
  4. Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and feet
  5. Frequent urination
  6. Fatigue
  7. Losing weight unintentionally
  8. Frequent thirst

Other possible symptoms include becoming more or less sensitive to touch and developing a lack of coordination when walking.

How Diabetes Can Cause Burning Feet

It takes time for diabetes to cause burning feet. However, if the symptoms of diabetes aren't controlled for an extended period, it will eventually cause burning feet, which is usually worse at night. At that stage, it becomes difficult to stop burning feet at night.

Diabetes causes burning feet as persistently high blood sugar levels and a build-up of waste fluids in your body damages the nerves that send signals from your extremities. As you develop diabetic nerve pain, you begin to have tingling sensations in your feet. You will also have numbness and a burning and aching pain in your feet. Initially, the pain will be mild, but it will progressively worsen.