Foot Health

Understanding the Causes of Pressure and Venous Ulcers on the Lower Limbs

Venous and pressure ulcers are two frequently occurring wounds seen in the elderly that can significantly impact the quality of their life.

Dr. Hassan Portrail
Dr. Mohammed Hassan
31 January 2022
wrapping an ulcer

Walking is a part of everyone’s daily routine. Even babies try hard to stand and walk on their own two feet. As we grow older, we walk and stand for hours, without knowing how this might affect our feet in the future. Venous and pressure ulcers are two frequently seen pathologies in a podiatrist’s office. They may not be common in young patients and can drastically change the quality of life in the patient. We will first discuss pressure ulcers, their treatments followed by an understanding of venous ulcers, and their treatment.

What causes this condition?

People who are at risk of developing heel pressure ulcers are typically obese, diabetic, malnourished, dehydrated, immobile, have undergone major surgeries, deformed, have a hip fracture or other comorbidities. These risk factors are common, so we should all pay more attention to the health of our feet. Long hours of walking and standing put a lot of pressure on our heels, so it’s wise to take the pressure off your heels occasionally. Managing minor foot injuries properly is another way to prevent foot ulcers from developing. If heel ulcers develop, treat them immediately.

How to treat heel pressure ulcers

Treating heel ulcers involves early intervention, infection control, promotion of healing, and preventing recurrence. To prevent the condition from worsening, it’s important to manage the ulcer properly. Do this by offloading pressure from the heel. Some medical devices can do this for you. You can also use pillows. Position them underneath the calves to keep the heel raised above any surfaces. This can be done when the person with foot ulcers is sleeping or resting. As much as possible, avoid using the infected foot. Remember that if ulcers worsen, the limb will probably require surgical intervention to remove the infection. In the most severe cases, amputation may be necessary.

When walking, ensure that your weight is equally distributed to your legs and feet. Walk properly. Practice good posture. Maintain a healthy diet. Stay fit. Do regular exercises and most importantly, maintain healthy foot hygiene. This way, you won’t have to worry about developing heel ulcers.

Proper foot management is crucial to the health of our feet. It is best to check them daily, and if you notice a wound in your foot, call today us. Dr. Hassan will provide you with the care you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are venous ulcers?

An ulcer is a skin condition that causes a loss of skin. In the case of venous ulcers, the veins in the legs become unable to return blood back to the heart. This is due to the valves in those veins losing their capacity. As a result, fluid pools around the legs causing pressure and the breakdown of the skin.

What are some of the risk factors for developing venous ulcers?

Some of the risk factors include being 50 years of age or older, obesity, smoking, having varicose veins, a family history of the condition, or standing for long periods of time.

What are some symptoms of venous ulcerations?

Some of the symptoms include leathery skin consistency, swelling in the lower legs and ankles (especially after extended periods of standing), tiredness in the legs, varicose veins, flaky and itchy skin, as well as discoloration of the skin.

What could happen if venous ulcers are not treated in a timely manner?

When an ulcer is present, the chances of infection in the soft tissue is high as there is an opportunity for microbes to enter the bloodstream. This can cause fever, chills, nausea, and malaise. Infection of the subcutaneous tissue can also occur, which is known as cellulitis.

What are some treatments that can be used to heal a venous ulcer?

Ulcer debridement and compression therapy are the mainstays of the treatment. The wound takes up to 12 weeks to heal and requires weekly visits to a specialist’s office for the debridement, which is a process of removing the unhealthy tissue, inducing bleeding, and applying a compression bandage.

What are some long-term treatments once the ulcer is healed?

Once the venous ulcer is healed, the patient should aim to monitor and prevent future breakdown of the skin. Regular wearing of compression stockings, elevating the feet to reduce swelling, and/or taking diuretics or “water pills” will prevent swelling in the legs and changes to the skin that could lead to breakdown. Performing calf exercises and adopting an appropriate diet are also useful.