Depression/Mental Health Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Can burning sensations really come from anxiety?

I started to experience skin burning sensations, as well as a host of other symptoms, about three months ago. I'm currently being evaluated for small-fiber neuropathy--which is a possible cause--with a barrage of tests that are still a month away.

However, many of my other "neurological" symptoms now seem to have had other causes, including a severe case of TMJ. I'm wondering about the burning, now, too.

I have read post after post on this forum and others from anxiety sufferers who have, or used to have, burning sensations on their legs or feet, or migratory pains in various places. Yet none of my doctors have heard of such a thing.

First, what is your opinion? Could burning result from anxiety in some cases? And do you recall ever seeing any literature on the subject? I haven't found much in the way of clinical reports.

Thanks so much.

15 Responses
242532 tn?1269550379
I can only repeat what I have said before about this.  Anxiety can mimimic any disease, but when you get vague symptoms that involve different organ systems, anxiety is a very likely diagnosis, and one of the things you can do is ask your doctor to treat you with klonopin for several weeks to see what happens to the symptoms.
Avatar universal
I think anything can be a sign of anxiety! I would check it out with the doctor but do as much reading as possible about anxiety disorders in the meantime. A book I found very useful is "The Anxiety Disease" by David Sheehan as well as anything by Claire Weekes.
Avatar universal
I can't wait to see what the doc has to say.  I get the burning sensations in the top part of my legs, sometimes in absence of the burning I get the bug crawling sensations, when I sit down and have pants on it drives me nuts, burning type headaches, and jaw and ear pain, along with the crawlies on the left side of my face.  Doc says its all anxiety, tried Prozac for a while, calmed it down some, maybe I needed a higher dosage, only took 20mg.  I am so wrapped up in this that I am preoccupied that it seems like I'm living in a dream and everything I do is in slow motion.  Sometime I suffer from CRS (can't remenber S8#T) Mines been going on for 6 years and somedays are better, when I'm busy I don't notice it as much, so what I'm saying STEVE, sometimes you wonder if it's not a case of mind over matter.  Did something spark your feelings?  Talk later, Take care.
Avatar universal
I, too, am interested to hear from the docs!

I'm being tested by neuros, who say it may be small-fiber neuropathy, but of a pretty rare kind. I don't quite match up exactly with most peoples' experiences. But that's their current dx.

However, I've seen so many people say they had burning from stress, and then got better (usually after treatment) that it's striking. Yet, I've never found a Medline or other journal report on the subject--it's all tantalizing hearsay.

What is striking to me is the timeline of onset. I was worried about getting a neurological reaction to vaccines even before I got the shots. Soon after, even before getting the symptoms I have now (migratory burning, pricking and skin sensitivity), I started getting panic attacks--which I NEVER get--in response to a swollen lip and numb chin, which was probably caused by a simple food allergy (which I've never had before). And I got TMJ from muscle cramping right before the painful burning and prickling started. Coincidence? Who knows?

So, I know the docs here can't diagnose me personally. But I'm getting frustrated by the vague information I've found on this issue. Some say, "Never heard of anxiety causing burning." Others say, "Of course, anxiety can cause anything"--but they can't provide any evidence, case reports or personal experience of it.

Avatar universal
My cousin was going through a tough divorce, she started having spots on her skin that was burning, heart palpitations, lump in the throat feeling, she went to UPMC and had the complete workup, MRI, bloodwork, heart/stress tests, and everything came back normal except that she has MVP, she never knew she had.  Started taking Prozac, and that helped her.  Sometimes when you worry about something, it seem to cause the symptoms that your worrying about.  Mine all started with looking up nausea on the internet, because I was having extreme anxiety attacks, left me with terrible nausea, when I did the search it said that MS causes nausea, thats all I had to hear, my life has been in an uproar for 6 years, my grandmother was diagnosed with MS when she was 60.  Then, I started noticing every little thing about my body, next came the big crawling sensations and they have been there since, maybe I do have MS, but I think that after 6 years it would have gotten worse, and I'd have more symptoms by now, I'm scared to know, it is on my mind 24/7.  But like I said before, if I keep busy, I don't notice it.  Weird, that's for sure.  Take care and hang in there.
Avatar universal
I've spoken to a cognitive behavioral therapist. Part of their treatment is giving you a rational reason for what you're feeling. For instance, tingling in the fingers and lips is a common sign of anxiety, and there's a physiological reason for it. Once this is explained, many people improve.

However, with burning, I haven't found any such simple explanations. Nor have I even seen simple, factual reports that show it can be caused by anxiety. If I did, that might make a big difference to me. But every report I see comes from some posting on the Web, or just appears in a vague footnote, or otherwise appears just out of reach. I'd LOVE to see just one journal report of clinical cases of anxiety that cause skin sensitivity (to touch) and burning.
Avatar universal
I'd like that too.  I know I would probably feel better.  I would imagine that I could definently go on with my normal everyday things and not be PREOCCUPIED!
Avatar universal
I am advised by my doctor that as I have had quite a lot of stress lately (including a visit to the STD clinic for tests which all proved negative )  my symptoms of tingling in the genital area are directly connected to this stress.  He has prescribed beta blockers and having been on them four days I cannot say that the symptoms have subsdided yet.  The symptoms are so very real! They are obviously not connected to any STD, rather they are all in my mind - I find this extraordinary, but having read the forums, maybe this is not so far-fetched?
Avatar universal
It's not "all in your mind." The symptoms are real. With anxiety, your body is preparing for something--like fighting a tiger--that isn't happening. It changes the way you breath, the carbon dioxide levels in your blood, and the neurotransmitters your nerve cells secrete. But often you don't recognize why these things are happening, and the symptoms cause more anxiety.

Tingling is classic as an anxiety symptom, if other causes are ruled out. It's caused by hyperventilation, which you do NOT know whether you're doing--even a doctor can't tell; it doesn't mean your chest is heaving, but simply that you're breathing in more oxygen than your body needs at the moment.
Avatar universal
I have burning as well!  My face, upper back and left arm and leg are burning RIGHT NOW!  My left arm feels like it's been slapped!!!  I get "

I have had MRIs... last one was in August 2005 on a 3.0 Tesla machine... w/ and w/o contrast.  All was normal.  I was seeing an MS specialist because I was/am worried about MS.  He assured me there is NO MS going on... nor anything neurological!  He said it's STRESS!!  

Was I happy w/ that answer?  Not really!  But, when I take my Zoloft, it goes away!!!!!  So, it made sence that it was anxiety and stress; however, I'm still on it (have been for 7 mts) and the burning has come back!  FREAKS ME OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My skin hurts all over (putting on clothes, shoes, my bra strap)... but, when I go to bed.. I usually feel better!!!

GO FIGURE!  I know it's miserable!!!!

My e-mail is ***@****  if y'all want to e-mail me and we can talk!!!!!!!

Avatar universal
Wow, I'm so happy I read your post.  I have been having burning and tingly sensations from my head to my arm, only on the right side of my body.  I have extreme anxiety, and usually these sensations only come when I am anxious...  but I never connected them.  Yes, I believe that your anxiety can truly cause burning.  Thank-you for posting this!
Avatar universal
Im 19 and have had the burning sensation all over my body, mostly back n chest stomach...i use to get little red dots all over and then sometimes red bigger spots, im on lexapro 20mg a day and am doing alot better but i still get the burning usually in the heat...ive had it for 6months already and it completly runied my life, i dont feel stressed or depressed, never have done drugs or drank, only thing that could have possibly triggerd it is my mom having cancer..other then that i have no idea.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder 1 year ago and I was also having panic attacks at that time.  One of my symptoms was a burning sensation.  When I think back now, it all seems like a bad dream and I can't remember the details of the burning sensation (I also had a bunch of other very unpleasant things going on), but I do remember opening all the windows at night and trying to go to sleep, with no clothes and just a sheet on, and still feeling so very very hot.  this was especially weird because I tend to be cold normally.  I remember asking my roommates and friends if they thought it was really really hot, or if it was just me.  During the day I would feel like my arms and legs and hands were burning and tingling, than at other times my hands would get cold and numb.

The strangest thing was I could not eat anything for weeks, I dropped 15 pounds in about a week, and the thought of eating made me sick in itself.  It was horrible.

I guess the point I am making is I defintly think that if the brain is capable of telling you not to eat when you are actually in starvation mode, I think it can also tell you you are burning up when you are really not. I thing pretty much any unexplained sensation could be.  Seems like the brain just goes on overdrive and it'signaling things it should not be.

On 10 mg. of Paxil now, no problems, would like to get off, but don't want to go back to that place.  Anyone have any suggestions?
Avatar universal
I have had burning and tingling sensation all the time, and had gone through a barrage of tests, which all came out negative. Finally I went to a spine specialist who told me I had 4 herniated discs in my neck and 2 in my lower back, "lo and behold" he told me that was the cause of my burning and tingling. His advise to me was to do light exercise and spend considerable time stretching. He also said not to sit in one postion for to long. I took this a step further and started doing Yoga and getting massages. Well guess what, I finally am getting relief from these symptoms. I also notice that when I do sit down a certain way, the burning and tingling will start again. The doctor did not put me on any drugs to mask the symptoms. I found a natural approach to relieving my discomfort. I hope this helps anyone who has similiar symptoms.
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone with burning pain!  This is my first post.  I have been looking for other people with similar strange symptoms as mine.  I started to get burning in my feet for no apparent reason.  GP offered no help, ran some blood tests, they were all normal - he was done.  I have since spent almost 2,000 dollars on naturopaths and all kinds of miracle remedies for unexplained pain.

I am wondering if this burning pain has an anxiety component too.  I notice I get burning in my shoulders, face, hands and arms if I get very anxious about this undiagnosed pain.  

Also, I have extreme fatigue to the point I cannot do anything.  Even resting hurts.  I think the fatigue is related to the anxiety.  It is like some kind of adrenaline exhaustion.  

In addition,  I have been waking up every morning with the burning in my shoulders, and arms.   Anyone else have experience with this?

Thanks so much for the input.  I will post any helpful information I can find.  The only other thing I am looking into now is having my amalgams removed.  They say burning pain is a symptom of mercury toxicity.

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Simple, drug-free tips to banish the blues.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
For many, mental health care is prohibitively expensive. Dr. Rebecca Resnik provides a guide on how to find free or reduced-fee treatment in your area