Burning symptoms, causes and treatment

Burning pain is not the same as the usual kinds of pain, such as aching, dull, or stabbing. But rather, this type of pain is usually associated with problems in the nerve, and it can have other potential sources as well, which may include infections, autoimmune disorders, and injuries or may also be due to nerve damage.

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Burning sensations that are caused by certain medical conditions do not have a cure, but to manage the pain, some treatments are available. If you are experiencing a burning pain, do not hesitate to consult your doctor so you can be assessed if there is an underlying medical issue.

Causes of Burning Sensation

A damage in the nervous system which consists of the (CNS) central nervous system, where the brain and the spinal cord are; and the (PNS) peripheral nervous system, where the nerves from the spine and the brain that connects to the rest of the body are located is among the main causes for burning sensations.  

Some of the causes of the burning sensation that arises from the nervous system are:

  • Radiculopathy- this condition occurs with aging, or maybe due to an injury in the spine. This happens when the local bones, muscle, or cartilage degenerates with age. It is also called a pinched nerve in the spine.
  • Herniated disk- is a spine condition when a disk is dislocated. These disks absorb the shock from the everyday activities like twisting and walking, thus protecting the bones in the spinal cord
  • Central pain syndrome- is nerve damage in the central nervous system that results in a disorder in the brain. This type of condition leads to the experience of pain sensations such as aching and burning
  • Monoeuropathy- is a type of condition that includes sciatica, ulnar nerve palsy, and carpal tunnel. This occurs when multiple conditions lead to the injury of one nerve. When this happens, a burning sensation is experienced in the affected area of the body
  • Cervical spondylosis- is when depletion of the bones and cartilage takes place and results in the constriction of the nerves in the neck, and persistent pain in that area with a burning sensation is felt.
  • Neuralgia- is due to a damaged nerve, usually in the neck or face. This condition results in a stabbing and burning pain that is experienced in the affected nerve
  • Peripheral neuropathy- is the result when there is a damage in the peripheral nerve
  • Multiple sclerosis- is a condition that alters the central nervous system and leads to the disruption in the communication between the central nervous system and the nerve cells

Aside from the damage in the nervous system, other potential sources may result in burning pain, and some of these are:

  • Whiplash is a type of injury that happens when the head moves forward and back in a sudden and forceful way
  • Frostbite is a condition when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes
  • Bites and stings from animals or insects that have venom

Other more reasons may cause a burning sensation and are associated with deficiencies in nutrition. These are the following:

  • Megaloblastic anemia is connected to the deficiency in folic acid or vitamin B-12
  • Beriberi is a type of deficiency in vitamin B-1 or thiamine
  • Pernicious anemia is linked to a deficiency in vitamin B- 12
  • Hypoparathyroidism is a condition that results in a deficiency in calcium and happens when the parathyroid hormone underproduces.

Some other possible sources that can lead to burning pain anywhere in the body are as follows:

  • Shingles is a painful, burning rash that is experienced in one part of the body and is commonly called as herpes zoster. This condition happens to individuals who have had chickenpox before
  • Canker sores are generally painful mouth ulcers that occur due to a virus
  • Rosacea is a type of condition in the skin that results in pus-filled, red bumps that can be found in the different parts of the body. It produces a hot sensation in the affected region at times.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that leads to a burning pain that is felt in the stomach, chest, or esophagus. This persistent acid reflux happens when the contents in the stomach go back up into the esophagus
  • Peripheral vascular disease is a type of disorder in the blood circulation affecting the arteries and veins that are outside the brain and the heart. The experience of burning sensation progresses when the individual is walking.
  • Herpes simplex is a kind of viral infection that results in tingling, painful sores that are found in the different parts of the body, but generally on the mouth or the genitals

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you are feeling a burning pain that is recurring, it is advised that you see your doctor right away. While you are in consultation with your health care provider, a physical examination may be required. Also, be ready to answer questions that are related to the pain that you are experiencing. It would be best if you have something like a record of your experience with the pain and in which parts you are feeling them give your doctor more information about your condition, and you can be assessed appropriately.  

Be ready to respond to questions such as:

You may need to have some diagnostic exams so that your health care provider will be able to determine the potential source of the burning sensation that you are experiencing.

Some of these tests can be:

  • Nerve biopsy- this is done to examine the nerve in a specific area of the body for any damage
  • A blood test or urine test- this is performed to assess any deficiencies in nutrition, or if there any other underlying conditions
  • Skin biopsy- this is done to check if there are abnormal cells in the affected area of the skin
  • Imaging tests- are performed to check the muscles and bones in the spine. This may include a CT scan or an X-ray
  • Nerve conduction velocity test- is used to assess the movement of electrical signals through a specific peripheral nerve
  • Electromyography- is done to check the condition of the muscles and the nerve.

Treatment for a Burning Sensation

There is no specific treatment for burning pain because the therapy will be based on the underlying medical condition. If something like this is found, then that condition will be dealt with first and treated prior to the burning sensation.

Some of the treatment that may be done is the following:

  • Changes in lifestyle
  • Changes in diet
  • Medicines
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy

To relieve yourself from the burning sensation, you may use some pain relievers that are prescribed by the doctor, over- the- counter medicines, anti-inflammatory drugs or you may be advised by your health care provider to do some home remedies to help you deal with the condition as well.

What are the normal conditions

Several conditions are associated with burning pain but do not have any cure. Fortunately, some treatments are available to relieve the symptoms and the pain, and they certainly give comfort to the patients a lot.  

If you have a persistent burning sensation, consult with your health care provider immediately so that you can be diagnosed appropriately, and be given the proper treatment and medication. When you already have instruction from your doctor, remember always to follow the plan for treatment consistently and show- up if you have scheduled appointments. Doing this would most likely save you from having any further complications and can treat your current condition at the soonest time.

When to seek medical attention

Some people opt to wait and see if the pain that they are feeling would go away after some time. In some cases, the sensation does fade. But if it is otherwise, and the experience of burning continues, it would be best to see your health care provider so you can be assessed right away.

If in case you develop any of these symptoms, see your doctor within the day. Symptoms may include:

  • Burning pain after a physical injury
  • Rash that is spreading quickly
  • Other symptoms like vomiting or bloody diarrhea
  • Development of fever
  • Severe burning pain while urinating

Other reasons for you to see your health care provider right away are:

  • When the condition does not get better with the medicine and the treatments, or if it gets worse
  • Is persistent
  • Is linked to a persistent disease that includes diabetes or liver failure

The experience of a burning sensation is not something to be taken lightly as it may be a cause of an underlying medical condition. Do not hesitate to see your health care provider and discuss your experiences with the burning pain so you can be diagnosed and treated properly.