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Hot legs: these are the causes and treatment options
If the legs or feet feel hot, there is usually no serious illness. However, it can also be a sign of various inflammations. Those affected not only feel heat in the relevant areas, but often also a burning pain.
Both feet or legs can be affected as well as just one limb. The heat occurs suddenly, and usually when the limb is at rest, which often means in bed.
It is typical that cooling the areas by means of wraps, a cold shower etc. briefly reduces the heat, but it starts again immediately afterwards and the feeling of warmth lasts for hours.
The limbs turn intensely red and often swell. There is also a tingling sensation or a feeling of numbness.
Hot legs can be caused by various illnesses. The most common are “Burning Feet Syndrome” and “Restless Legs Syndrome”. Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, polyneuropathies and inflamed vessels are also associated with the typical symptoms. Problems with the metabolism and diseases of the spinal cord are less often the cause.
Thrombosis and inflammation
Thrombosis, gout and inflammation of the tendon sheaths and veins also lead to feelings of heat and, in addition, to burning pain, as well as Raynaud's disease, Lyme disease and erythema magic.
An unspecific trigger is when the burning areas are more intensely supplied with blood than usual. This in turn can have a variety of reasons. One of these is medication that dilates the vessels and thus promotes blood circulation. They then do too much of a good thing.
If the symptoms are due to a drug that dilates the vessels, the symptoms usually stop when the patient stops taking the drug or even reduces the active ingredient.
In the case of diseases, the disease must always be treated first. Pain therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy alleviate the pain.
First, check if there is a harmless cause. A feeling of heat also arises from the fact that blood vessels are under pressure. This is due, for example, to clothing that is too tight, but in the case of “hot feet”, above all to shoes or socks that are too tight, the elastic band of which cuts into the skin.
If you cross your legs for a long time while sitting, the blood builds up in your limbs because the blood drainage in the veins is restricted. This can also make your legs feel hot.
An extreme change in temperature also leads to circulatory disorders and the appearance of symptoms.
Last but not least, cigarettes and alcohol affect the blood vessels.
Burning feet syndrome
With Burning Feet Syndrome, those affected feel a burning pain in their feet - especially at night. The skin in the appropriate places dries out, sweat breaks out, the muscles contract and the patient suffers from sleep disorders.
It is important for the diagnosis: the feet function normally and the patient can move as usual.
The doctor makes the diagnosis based on the symptoms, because the exact cause is unclear. Vitamin deficiency, especially the lack of vitamin B and a low magnesium level are probably associated with the syndrome.
The affected areas are not supplied with enough oxygen because the blood circulation is disturbed. A possible cause are disorders of the metabolism or malnutrition, which also explains the vitamin deficiency.
Freedom of movement is an important sign to distinguish Burning Feet syndrome from other diseases. Thrmobosis in the leg veins also leads to burning pain in the feet - but those affected can only move their legs to a very limited extent due to pain.
Hot legs due to vitamin B deficiency
A lack of vitamin B12 means that the red blood cells do not work efficiently. Basic diseases are, for example, blood cancer or advanced alcoholism. The organism no longer receives enough oxygen.
This anemia caused by a lack of vitamins is shown first by tingling in the toes and fingers. These can also feel hot. In addition, those affected feel weak, suffer from a headache and have no appetite.
Vitamin B 12 is found in meat, fish, eggs and milk. Vitamin B-12 deficiency usually arises from the lack of a protein around the stomach, the intrinsic factor. Without this, a person cannot absorb vitamin B12, no matter how much of it is in their food.
Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency can be distinguished from other anemia by the advanced symptoms: those affected suffer from disorders of the peripheral nervous system, balance disorders when walking and dementia. If the deficiency is not remedied early, these disorders can become chronic.
The problem of many patients is that alcohol intoxication and alcoholism also cause dementia and balance disorders, even without a lack of vitamin B 12.
A lack of vitamin B5 shows up as numbness, tingling or burning in the fingers, toes, hands and feet. These symptoms can appear and disappear spontaneously.
The best sources of vitamin B 5 are brewing yeast, avocado, legumes, lentils, egg yolk, broccoli, tomatoes, beef, turkey, duck, chicken, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, whole grain bread and salmon. The vitamin is damaged during cooking.
Raynaud's disease and restless legs syndrome
Raynaud's disease is particularly evident at the end of the fingers and toes. In erythomelalgia, the blood suddenly shoots into the feet and hands, which turn red and hurt; the restless legs syndrome not only leads to heat in the leg, but the affected person temporarily lose control of the leg muscles.
Since the cause of Burning Feet syndrome is unknown, treatment focuses on symptom control and vitamin and mineral deficiency. Those affected can take vitamins and minerals in the form of tablets or an infusion.
Remedies that relieve convulsions and usually work against epilepsy, as well as local anesthetics that block the nerve regions at the "source of the fire" help against the pain. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Ravinder P S Makkar et al .: "Burning feet syndrome. A clinical review", in: Australian family physician, Volume 32 Issue 12, 2004, NCBI
- Christopher C. Muth: "Restless Legs Syndrome", in: JAMA, 2017, JAMA Network
- Theresia Wilhelms: Treat varicose veins naturally: Holistic vein strengthening in 12 steps. With many recommendations from Chinese medicine, Schluetersche, 2017
- Felix Mahler: "The Raynaud phenomenon and other circulatory disorders of the fingers", in: Praxis, 2014, Hogrefe