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Is a burning sensation in the head, neck or arms a reason to visit a doctor?

Burning sensation could caused by many medical conditions. Some of these conditions are benign localized conditions and others are serious generalized conditions that presented with burning sensation as an initial symptom. Some clues can help to figure out whether this burning sensation is benign or as result of serious medical conditions

1. Is the burning sensation exacerbated or induced by touching your face, brushing your teeth or turning your head?

If so your symptoms could be due to Neuralgia. This condition usually presents with a burning or stabbing sensation. Most of the cases end up casing severe pain along the area innervated by the damaged nerve. This condition could be caused by diabetes or viral infections. Pain medications will be tried to relieve the pain and often they do. For those who have persistent pain surgical options are available.

2. Skin symptoms such as small round rash with similar distribution to the burning sensation.

When skin rash is associated with the burning sensation the cause of the symptoms is most likely a viral infection called Shingles. This virus (varicella-zoster) causes chicken pox, and sometimes this virus remain dormant hiding inside the nervous cells and stays suppressed as long as your immune system is capable to fight it, this virus will be waiting until the immune system weakens or is busy with another illness to spread along the nerve and cause singles. Symptoms are Burning pain in small patches on one side of the body, later the rash appears.

3. Is the burning sensations usually followed by headache?

Migraine headaches could be preceded by neurological symptoms called aura. Aura can be light flashes in front of your eyes, feeling of sudden heat or burning sensation or funny smell. Migraine is treated with pain relievers.

4. If the burning sensation is associated with numbness and tingling that is localized to a distinct area?

This could be caused by cervical spondylosis or mononeuritis. Cervical spondylosis is a condition that is caused by repetitive damage to the cartilage of the cervical spine. Usually this condition presents with numbness and tingling of the arms and shoulders.

5. If the burning sensation is associated with heat coming out of the skin, it can be caused by a local infection.

6. Association with eye pain, vision problems and dizziness can be a clue to multiple sclerosis.

7. If the burning is associated with leg or arm weakness, problems finding words or articulating it could be caused by stroke.

It is highly recommended to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner to have a full system review and physical exam.

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