Leg Ulcers

  • Leg Ulcer

Leg ulcers can be very painful and unpleasant. Obtaining a cure depends on diagnosing the underlying cause.

What is Leg Ulcers?

Leg ulcers are mainly due to:

 

  • Venous insufficiency (badly functioning veins, including varicose veins)
  • Arterial insufficiency (blocked arteries)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (impaired sensation, most commonly seen in diabetes)

 

There are other less common causes but the vast majority of leg ulcers are due to one or a combination of these three problems. "Mixed" ulcers (i.e. due to more than one factor) are more difficult to cure and are more likely to recur.

 

If an ulcer is very painful, especially if the pain is worse at night and relieved by hanging the leg down, it is likely there is an underlying arterial problem limiting the flow of blood into the leg.  By contrast, legs with chronic venous insufficiency feel more comfortable elevated up on a stool or in bed.  

 

Treatment of a leg ulcer requires more than dressings, but also correction of the underlying cause. Clinical assessment by a vascular surgeon is required to confirm the underlying cause of a leg ulcer.  Duplex scanning of the arteries and veins in the affected limb are usually accurate ways of establishing whether there is a disorder of the circulation underlying the ulcer.

 

What part of the body does it affect?

Leg ulcers can occur anywhere on the legs but are typically found on the lower leg and ankle. 

 

What are the symptoms?

Leg ulcers are most commonly due to varieties of varicose veins.  In some cases they result from previous deep vein thrombosis.  Venous ulcers usually improve rapidly with compression bandaging treatment.  This is applied by a specialist nurse and improves the blood flow through the tissues to promote healing of the ulcer.

After the ulcer has healed, the compression bandaging is replaced with an elastic compression stocking which is work during the daytime.

What are the treatment options?

Treatment options depend on the cause of your leg ulcers. 

 

For venous ulcers, dressings, compressions bandages or stockings may be used. 

 

If the ulcers are the result of varicose veins, the veins can be treated using a range of treatments. 

 

Artertial ulcers will be treated by angioplasty and stenting. 

 

Is the condition preventable? If so, how?

The best way to avoid venous ulcers is to get varicose veins treated as early as possible and wear elastic stockings. 

What should I do next?

If you think you may have developed a leg ulcer, contact us to make an appointment with a specialist. 

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