What causes a burning sensation under the skin on the back?

Written by jay p. whickson
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Sometimes you'll feel a pain somewhere and know that it came from straining a muscle or other injury. Other times you notice a pain or burning sensation and it doesn't seem to have any origin. If the pain continues, look for other things that might help in your investigation. Watch for blisters, pain in other areas or even what you did right before the pain began. Pain is a way the body warns you there's something wrong. Sometimes it isn't serious, but other times you need to seek medical attention.

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Shingles

See if you have any blisters in that area or if any form soon after you begin to feel the pain. The first thing you always look for if you have a burning sensation under the skin on the back is some type of skin condition like the beginning of herpes zoster, which is shingles. Shingles start with a tingling or burning under the skin but then develops into blisters. The chickenpox virus causes the condition. It sometimes lays dormant in the nerves of the body for years and then becomes active when your immune system isn't strong. It does damage as it travels the nerves. Even when the blisters heal, it often leaves pain.

Paresthesia

Take note whether the condition started with numbness, tingling or itching. Many times, it feels like tiny pin pricks but then changes to a burning sensation. The condition is paresthesia, and it can start when there's pressure on the nerve. The pressure is normally in the hands and feet but can occur in the back. If you move around to a different position and it feels better, it's probably transient paresthesia caused by pressure on the nerve. If you feel it and no amount of moving around changes the feeling, but it just comes and goes on its own, you might have chronic paresthesia from something more serious. Notalgia paraesthetica occurs when you damage the nerves close to the surface along the shoulders. Capsaicin cream helps stop the burning and pain by numbing the nerve transmitters.

Diabetes

Another disease that causes burning on the back and other areas is diabetes. Diabetes causes damage to many different areas but one of them is nerve tissue. If you notice an increase in thirst, frequent trips to the bathroom, skin rashes or infections elsewhere, blurred vision, a weight gain or loss, poor healing, drowsiness or exhaustion, they may be related to the condition on your back. Seek medical attention and tell the doctor all the symptoms.

Sciatica

Note whether the burning extends down your back to your legs. It might be sciatica. Sciatica comes from pressure on the main nerve down your back. Depending on your medical philosophy and doctor, you might get an adjustment or take muscle relaxers to counteract the pain.

Cerebrovascular Accident or Peripheral Artery Disease

See if there's any other symptom like a drooping face, personality change or change in your handwriting. These might mean a cerebrovascular accident where there was an absence of blood to the brain and it caused tissue damage. Peripheral artery disease also causes damage that might lead to your back burning.

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