Vein problems cause most of the ulcers on the legs treated in wound care centers.
These wounds are called “venous stasis ulcers”, because they are located in the middle or lower part of the leg, usually above the ankle. These ulcers may be quite large (5-10 cm diameter) and may be “ugly” in appearance, but they are usually not painful. If there is associated pain, the pain is frequently relieved by elevation of the extremity.
The skin around these ulcers may be brownish in color and may be firm to touch (not soft and supple), for many years before the ulcer begins. A common cause of leg ulcers is reflux (abnormal blood flow) in the veins of the leg, specifically the saphenous vein. This problem can be treated permanently by the venous stasis ulcer treatment specialists in Port St. Lucie at Treasure Coast Heart and Vascular with an outpatient procedure done in the office. Otherwise, venous leg ulcers tend to recur over time, especially if an appropriate treatment regimen with compression hosiery has not been followed. With venous leg ulcers, the risk of limb loss is low.
Arterial ulcers are usually very painful.
They are most often located in the foot or toes, i.e. further from the blood flow pump (the heart). Pain is the primary complaint for these patients, especially pain at night if their foot is not kept below the heart. In fact, many patients tell us they sleep with their foot hanging off the bed, to relieve their pain. The wound itself may be small (1-2 cm diameter), and is usually dry. For example, it may be just the tip of a toe.
These wounds do not often look as “ugly” as a venous leg ulcer, because there is not enough blood flow to make pus or drainage. The skin around the wound is sometimes red, tender, and swollen because bacteria can get through the skin and invade the surrounding tissues. This problem needs urgent treatment, and the risk of limb loss is high.
Diabetes patients also frequently get ulcers and wounds of the foot and toes, but that is primarily because of poor sensation (numbness) of the feet.
The technical term for this numbness is “peripheral neuropathy.” Many of these patients also have arterial problems, which results in poor arterial blood flow. This group of patients is at especially high risk of limb loss. Treasure Coast Heart and Vascular’s Port St. Lucie diabetic wound care clinic is recognized as the leading amputation prevention center in St Lucie and Martin Counties.
If you or anyone you know suffers from non-healing leg wounds, diabetic ulcers, or needs venous stasis ulcer treatment in Port St. Lucie or the surrounding area, call us today. We offer hope when others say there is none.