Leg & Foot Ulcers
What is a Leg or Foot Ulcer (Venous Leg Ulcers)?
A Venous Leg Ulcer is a non-healing open wound, usually on the inner ankle or lower leg. It is generally caused by poor circulation or venous insufficiency.
Symptoms of Leg or Foot Ulcers
Symptoms depend on whether the ulcer is a venous ulcer or an arterial ulcer.
Venous Ulcer Symptoms
- Located on the lower leg or ankle
- A shallow, asymmetrical wound
- Surrounding skin is discoloured
- Leaks lots of fluid
- Not too painful
- Lower leg swells during the day, but reduces overnight
Arterial Ulcer Symptoms
Located on the foot, the back of the leg or higher up on the lower leg
- Pain – especially when standing or at night
- Deep, asymmetrical wound
Complications of Leg or Foot Ulcers
If untreated, arterial ulcers can lead to Gangrene or death.
Causes of Leg or Foot Ulcers
- Risk factors for leg or foot ulcers include:
- Varicose veins
- Previous venous problems
- Pressure sores
- Cardio vascular medication
- Family history of leg or foot ulcers
Leg or Foot Ulcers Treatment
Correct diagnosis is vital and the treatment for arterial ulcers is completely different to treatment for venous ulcers, and can possibly cause additional harm if the wrong treatment is given. To complicate matters further, many patients have a number of causes of their ulcers across both arteries and veins. This means that combination treatments may often be required.
Arterial ulcer treatment is often urgent and can include angioplasty surgery to clear the blocked artery. In some cases bypass surgery of the blocked artery is required. In severe cases, amputation may be required.
Venous ulcer treatment includes cleaning the wound, specialised air and water-tight dressings, compression, painkillers and antibiotics, dietary supplements if required, and hyperbaric oxygen. Treatment may also include surgery to remove dead tissue from the wound, and skin grafts if required.
Dr Williams will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your different options with you during your appointment.
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