Question: The soles of both my feet have been feeling hot over the last couple of months. I am 57 years old and have no other medical problems. I am not sure if the hot sensation in my feet is caused by my recent use of a pair of “reflexology” slippers from a reputable brand. What could be the cause of my hot soles?
If the sensation occurs during activities such as walking or running, it may be related to the footwear, nerve irritation in the lumbar spine in the lower back or impaired blood circulation. Excessively tight or ill-fitting shoes increase pressure on the nerves around the feet and ankle, which can cause discomfort, numbness or a burning sensation. Pain from nerve irritation in the spine usually radiates down the thigh and leg and is triggered by prolonged walking or sitting.
A common cause of nerve irritation in the spine is a degenerative intervertebral disc – a disc of spongy material between every two vertebrae, or bone segments, of the spine. Degenerative disc disease often results from ageing or some form of injury to the spine.
Impingement from thickened intervertebral joints, each of which hinge a vertebra to the back portion of the spine, called the vertebral arch, can also result in nerve irritation in the spine. The pain from nerve irritation is usually relieved by a change in posture.
A third possible cause of your symptoms could be impaired blood circulation to the feet as a result of narrowing of the blood vessels from atherosclerosis, when fat deposits accumulate on blood vessel walls. Damage to the nerves from diabetes, alcohol or other medical conditions can also cause similar symptoms, especially in the early stages. Hence, any persistent or worsening symptoms, as well as weakness or numbness, warrants an assessment by a doctor.
DR ROGER TIAN, associate consultant sports physician at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre and Changi Sports Medicine Centre