My Venous Ulcer Is Not Healing. What Do I Do?
An ulcer is an open skin sore that can appear anywhere on your body. The red, swollen sores that ooze aren’t exactly pleasant to look at and are even painful. While ulcers can form anywhere on the body, they most often form on the legs. Venous ulcers are often the result of poor blood circulation in the legs and are a condition that shouldn’t be ignored. The open skin sore can develop into a serious problem if left untreated. Unlike a cut or a scrape, which heal naturally via the body’s healing process, an ulcer can not heal without proper treatment and can possibly lead to infection. Thankfully, with the appropriate advice and guidance, it’s possible to manage a venous ulcer.
If you are struggling with a venous ulcer, please contact Tennessee Vein Center at 865-233-5858 or visit our contact page. Serving residents of Knoxville, Alcoa, and throughout East Tennessee, Tennessee Vein Center can provide you with the proper support you need to get your venous ulcer under control.
What Is a Venous Ulcer and What Causes Them?
A venous ulcer is a sore that develops between the ankle and knee. Typically, the unsightly sores form on the backside of the leg or near the ankle. Venous ulcers are usually large and are defined by uneven edges. Usually, venous leg ulcers are accompanied by swelling in the leg. The skin often becomes red and itchy as well. If you develop a venous ulcer, you may experience a tightness in your calves and a throbbing, heavy, aching feeling in your legs. Discolored patches of skin are also key identifiers of a venous ulcer. A venous ulcer is a disheartening condition that can feel like an uphill battle. If one forms, it will seem as though it will never go away - as though it is untreatable. Don't let that discourage you from finding proper treatment.
Venous ulcers are usually the result of poor blood circulation. Your veins help feed blood back into your heart. In the lower half of your body, more energy output from your veins is needed to send blood back to your heart as they work against gravity. This additional energy output is usually sourced from moving your legs. In some cases, often due to a lack of physical mobility, the vein walls and valves can become damaged, a condition called venous insufficiency, which results in blood pooling in a vein. When a vein valve is not working properly, and blood begins to pool, it can have a damaging effect on the skin, eventually causing it to break down and form a venous ulcer.
Who Is at Risk for a Venous Ulcer?
Venous leg ulcers are among the most common forms of ulcers. The condition accounts for 80 to 85 percent of all ulcer cases and is primarily prominent in older adults. Women are more likely to get a venous ulcer than men and are susceptible to the condition at a younger age. Women are likely to develop a venous leg ulcer when they’re between the ages of 40 and 50, while men usually develop it between 70 and 80.
While women are at a significantly higher risk for developing venous ulcers, other factors can contribute to the condition developing, including:
- Varicose veins
- Blood clots
- Muscle weakness in the legs
- Leg injury or trauma
- Lack of mobility
While venous leg ulcers usually go away after two to three months, they can sometimes take up to one to two years, making treatment especially necessary. Unfortunately, in some cases, venous leg ulcers may never go away, accounting for 15 percent of cases.
Treatment for Venous Ulcers
The type of treatment you will need for your venous ulcer will depend on its severity. Treatment methods will also depend on your age, specific symptoms and how well you can tolerate certain treatments. Some of the most common treatment options for venous ulcers include:
Compression Stockings – Compression stockings are vital for healing a venous ulcer. This form of therapy works by applying pressure to improve blood flow. The treatment is effective and can potentially heal an open sore quickly. By counteracting the pressure on the vein built up from blood pooling, compression stockings allow your skin to heal.
Leg Elevation – Elevating your legs can help promote deep venous blood flow. However, leg elevation is best done when performed in conjunction with the wearing of compression stockings. Doing it alone will not help promote venous ulcer healing a significant amount. It is recommended to elevate your legs at least one hour a day for six days a week while wearing compression stockings.
Exercise – Since venous insufficiency is often the result of immobility, exercising can help improve your vein health significantly. By doing so, you can help redirect pooling blood to where it’s needed most. Such exercises as walking, running and ankle exercises can help improve venous ulcers.
Sclerotherapy – Sclerotherapy is a treatment option that is often reserved for more severe cases of venous insufficiency. The treatment involves injecting a chemical into the damaged vein, which will destroy the vein walls, causing it to collapse and making the blood redirect elsewhere in the body. The body naturally absorbs the destroyed vein.
Preventing Venous Ulcers From Developing Again
Preventing venous ulcers will require developing healthy habits that promote blood flow in your legs. Treating your damaged veins is the most important step to prevent a venous ulcer from developing again, but other precautions you can take include:
- Examining your legs, feet and ankles daily
- Not sitting or standing for long periods
- Avoiding sitting with your legs crossed
- Stopping smoking
- Exercising daily
- Elevating your legs at least one hour a day
- Avoiding wearing tight clothing
- Wearing comfortable shoes
- Protecting your feet and legs from injury
- Avoiding extreme temperatures
- Wearing compression stockings
Schedule a Venous Ulcer Consultation at Tennessee Vein Center
Venous ulcers can be challenging to deal with. The condition can last for just a couple of months, a couple of years or even never go away. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to help improve the open sores. Lifestyle changes can also have a significant impact on the condition. Running daily, quitting smoking, wearing compression stockings and elevating your legs are some of the few steps you can take to prevent a venous ulcer from forming again.
If you are ready to take the steps needed to rid your body of your venous ulcer, please contact Tennessee Vein Center of Alcoa, TN, to schedule a venous ulcer consultation.