When you’ve heard the word “ulcer” in the past, you might immediately think of something like “stomach problems” or “stress-related,” but lower extremity ulcers often have a completely different cause.
The most common cause of leg ulcers is vascular disease, so if you find yourself developing ulcers on your lower half and they aren’t improving, they might be an indication of a cardiac problem.
Knowing what a leg ulcer looks like, what causes it, and how they’re treated won’t just improve your quality of life while dealing with one, it can make a difference in treating the heart disease it might indicate.
Leg ulcers are often diagnosed by a vascular surgeon based on the location, borders, and appearance on the body. Of course, leg and other lower extremity ulcers will be located on the lower half of the body, and often manifest as open, often painful sores that either never seem to heal or recur often.
Other warning signs of a potentially dangerous leg ulcer include pus in the affected area, pain in the affected area, increasing wound size, leg size, enlarged veins, generalized pain or heaviness in the legs.
The severity of these leg ulcers are diagnosed using ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, and x-rays.
Two-thirds of leg ulcers are caused by disease in the veins of the legs. Because the veins in the leg have only one-way valves, weak veins are unable to move blood correctly, causing blood to flow the wrong direction and incredibly high blood pressure when standing up. This can cause damage to the skin and the development of ulcers.
Other potential causes for leg ulcers are arterial disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, recent surgery, or other trauma to the leg.
The goal of treatment for a leg ulcer is often two-fold: first, to treat the high level of pressure, pain, and discomfort in the leg, and secondly, to intervene and treat the potential vein and vascular diseases it can be an indicator of.
To treat the swelling and high blood pressure in the leg, doctors will often recommend keeping the leg elevated, wearing compression bandages or stockings, and in some cases, orthotics or braces to treat and prevent future ulcers from occurring. In the most severe circumstances, surgical intervention may be required.
If an ulcer has become infected, pus drainage and antibiotics might be necessary.
Doctors may prescribe pentoxifylline to improve the blood circulation in the legs as well as aspirin to prevent blood clots. They may also recommend increasing physical activity, stopping smoking, and implementing healthy eating habits.
For more detailed information from the expert providers at South Valley Vascular about Lower Extremity Ulcers, click here.
The talented team of providers at South Valley Vascular are dedicated to providing effective, long-lasting, and educated vascular treatment to the communities of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. For information on their providers, what treatments they specialize in, and how to get in contact with South Valley Vascular, visit https://www.southvalleyvascular.com/.