What are burning legs?

Burning legs can result from a number of causes, including damage to nerves in the legs from exposure to extreme heat or cold or to toxic substances. Burning legs might also result from a circulation problem that impairs blood flow to the legs, a leg injury, or intense exercise. Another possible cause of burning legs is meralgia paresthetica, which is pain in the outer thigh due to compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, one of the main nerves within the thigh. Chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, can also cause the sensation of burning in the legs.

Alternatively, burning legs may be caused by peripheral neuropathy, a disorder in which the peripheral nerves that relay signals between the body and the brain and spinal cord lose function. Peripheral neuropathy can be due to a number of specific diseases and disorders, including alcoholism, diabetes, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune nerve disorder. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy has no known cause.

A burning feeling may be the only symptom experienced or it may be accompanied by tingling (paresthesia) and numbness. The duration and course of burning legs can vary widely, depending on the underlying condition. Burning legs caused by injury often have a sudden onset, while burning legs resulting from peripheral neuropathy develops slowly and persists or worsens over time.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if a sudden leg burning sensation is accompanied by numbness or weakness on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or the worst headache of your life, as these can be signs of stroke. Also, if your burning legs are a result of a severe burn, seek immediate medical care (call 911).

If your burning legs are persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with burning legs?

Burning legs may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the legs also involve other body systems.... Read more about burning legssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes burning legs?

Burning legs can be caused by nerve or skin damage in the legs and surrounding tissues. Burns from chemicals and extreme heat, as well as exposure to poisonous substances, may damage the nerves in the skin, resulting in a sensation of burning legs.... Read more about burning legscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves