What Does It Mean When Your Nerves Feel Like They Are Burning?

Reviewed on 10/14/2022

15 Causes of Burning Nerve Pain

Illustration of blood cells shown inside a nerve tube
Common causes of burning nerve pain may include brain, spine, or nerve injuries; poor blood supply to the nerves, vitamin B12 or thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, heavy drinking, certain medications, multiple sclerosis,  sciatica, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, and others.

Nerve pain (neuralgia or neuropathic pain) can feel like burning, stabbing, or shooting pain. Nerve pain occurs when a health condition impacts the nerves that transmit sensations to the brain, causing a specific type of pain that can feel like burning.

Common causes of burning nerve pain may include:

  • Brain, spine, or nerve injuries
  • Poor blood supply to the nerves
  • Vitamin B12 or thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency
  • Heavy drinking
  • Use of certain medications
  • Phantom pain following amputation

Conditions that can cause burning nerve pain include: 

Conditions associated with burning nerve pain include: 

What Are Symptoms of Neuropathic Pain?

Nerve pain (neuralgia or neuropathic pain) can feel like a burning, shooting, or stabbing sensation. The pain may:

  • Range from mild to severe
  • Be sharp and sudden, like an electric shock
  • Worsen at night
  • Interfere with daily life such as sleep, work, sex, and exercise

Other symptoms that may accompany burning nerve pain may include: 

  • Sensitivity to touch or cold 
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Numbness or weakness 
  • Aching pain in different parts of the body
  • Pain may occur from stimuli that would not normally be painful, such as brushing the skin
  • Anxiety and depression due to pain

How Is a Burning Nerves Sensation Diagnosed?

Nerve pain (neuralgia or neuropathic pain) that feels like burning is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination that may include testing the nerves by testing muscle strength, checking reflexes, and seeing how sensitive the area is to touch.

Other tests used to help diagnose burning nerve pain may include: 

What Is the Treatment for Nerve Pain?

Nerve pain (neuralgia or neuropathic pain) can be difficult to treat and it usually starts with treating the underlying cause, if there is one. The goal of other treatments is to reduce pain. 

Non-medical treatments for burning nerve pain may include: 

  • Education and counseling to help people understand and cope with the pain
  • Psychological treatments to help patients feel in control of the pain and to reduce distress
  • Exercise
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Acupuncture
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to block the transmission of pain sensations to the brain

Medications used to treat burning nerve pain may include:

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 10/14/2022

Image source: iStock Images