published Thursday, August 16th, 2012

ASK A DOCTOR: What do I do when my foot burns like a blowtorch?

Dr. Bill Moore Smith

Q: I am a 68-year-old man with a strange foot problem. Sometimes when I lie down, my left heel burns and feels like a blowtorch is burning it. It awakens me and can last 30 seconds to three minutes. When I get up, it gets better. What could be causing this?


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A: The symptom of burning in one or both feet usually indicates either a nerve or blood-flow issue. The timing of the symptom makes me favor a nerve-related problem. This may actually be coming from your back, where you may have a nerve being impinged. When you stand up or change positions in bed, it may get better or worse. Other less likely causes could be another medical problem such as diabetes. See your physician for a thorough exam to properly treat this. You also can try initially to put an ice pack on your lower back for 15 to 20 minutes. (Make sure you put a cloth between your skin and the ice). This will help relieve inflammation on the nerve if that is the cause.

-- Dr. Bill Moore Smith, UT-Erlanger Primary and Athletic Health; member, Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society

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