Open wounds or sores have appeared on your lower legs and you have a few questions, such as why won’t they heal, and should you seek help? It’s likely that you’ve developed venous ulcers, which not only signal a problem in your veins, but they place you at risk for serious infections.
As vascular experts, Dr. Mark A. Matey and the team here at Jacksonville Vein Specialists are all too familiar with venous ulcers and their potential complications. If you have sores or wounds on your lower legs, here’s what we want you to know.
The makings of a venous ulcer
The majority of venous ulcers are caused by a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which affects between 6 and 7 million people in the United States. This condition develops in your leg veins, which have a tougher job than most of your other blood vessels because they face both distance and gravity to return oxygen-depleted blood back to your heart.
To help in the effort, the veins in your legs are equipped with one-way valves that close as blood passes through, preventing the liquid from spilling backward. When you have CVI, these valves weaken and don’t shut properly, allowing blood to pool in your legs.
Over time, this pooling can lead to swelling in your lower limbs (edema) and varicose veins, which are often precursors to venous ulcers. The ulcers form as a result of the continuous pressure on your blood vessels and skin due to the pooling fluids.
Complications of venous ulcers
The uncomfortable sore or wound that forms because of the high pressure of fluids in your legs is already more than just a minor nuisance. Where we become even more concerned is that the very issue that caused the ulcer can also prevent it from healing in a timely manner.
If the circulation in your legs is compromised because of CVI, wounds such as these have a harder time healing because of a sluggish access to resources. Not to mention, unless you take steps to offset your CVI, the pressure from the gathering fluids in your legs continues, which also interferes with healing.
If these wounds don’t heal quickly or properly, this means that you are more vulnerable to potentially serious infections.
Lastly, we also want to draw your attention back to the word, “chronic,” in chronic venous insufficiency. This condition isn’t likely to go away, and if one ulcer heals, another can form in its wake.
Getting your venous ulcers treated correctly
As vascular experts, our approach to venous ulcers is multi-pronged. Of course, we start with the wound, and we apply special dressings that promote healing. We may also prescribe medications to prevent infection.
In addition to wound care, we also look at ways to tackle your CVI to prevent venous ulcers from forming again, such as:
- Wearing compression stockings
- Elevating your legs
- Exercising more
- Strengthen your calf muscles
These lifestyle tips are highly effective in preventing venous issues like varicose veins and venous ulcers.
If you have a venous ulcer, we urge you to come see us sooner rather than later. To get started, please contact either of our two offices in Jacksonville, Florida, at 904-423-1925 or book an appointment online.