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What Causes Burning Toes and Feet at Night?

Burning feet and toes is often due to nerve damage. It has a myriad of causes including nutritional deficiencies, chemical exposure, metabolic disorder, chemo.

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Kirsty Macdougall - Editor for Upstep
Edited by Kirsty Macdougall

Published April 25, 2022.

Foot pain is never something easy to bear. This is particularly true when you have itchy and burning pain in your toes and feet, which worsens at night. This group of symptoms is known as Grierson-Gopalan Syndrome.

Causes of Burning Toes and Feet

There are many causes of burning feet, but it is often due to nerve damage. Several conditions can lead to this.

  • Metabolic disorders, e.g. hypothyroidism and type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Nutritional deficiency: A deficiency of vitamin B-12 and minerals like magnesium and calcium can lead to burning feet, which continues to worsen until treated.
  • Heavy alcohol intake can cause alcoholic neuropathy. This, in turn, causes your feet to feel like they are on fire.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Continuous exposure to heavy metals and certain industrial chemicals can also result in a sensation of burning feet.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemicals used to irradiate cancer cells may cause peripheral neuropathy as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions like tarsal tunnel syndrome and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) can also cause this issue.
  • Improper shoes: An increase in pressure because of tight or ill-fitting shoes can cause nerve compression, which can eventually lead to a burning sensation in the feet.
  • Infections and Inflammation: Many infectious diseases like athletes' foot, Lyme disease, HIV, syphilis, and shingles can cause burning feet.

Why Are Burning Toes and Feet Worse at Night?

There are several reasons why burning toes and feet are often worse at night. At night, there is usually a drop in room temperature without a reduction in body temperature. With peripheral neuropathy, the body is more sensitive to any temperature change and interprets it as pain.

In addition, there are fewer distractions at night, meaning that you're more likely to notice any slight pains. It's also common to find that pain medication wears off at night, as does its effect. Excessive stress on your body during the day can also cause nerve pain at night.