It’s easy to ignore swollen ankles or a feeling like your legs are heavy. But these minor problems could be an early indication of a more serious health concern — leg ulcers.
As part of our comprehensive line of vein and vascular services at Hamptons Vein & Vascular, Dr. Rashmi Sharma diagnoses and treats leg ulcers as well as their underlying cause, including venous insufficiency.
Our entire care team is dedicated to helping patients in Rutherford and Westfield, New Jersey, detect the warning signs of a leg ulcer to prevent more serious complications.
Keep reading to learn more about leg ulcers and the warning signs you might have one.
What is a venous leg ulcer?
In general, the term ulcer refers to open sores on your skin. Ulcers usually develop when a minor skin injury doesn’t heal but instead expands and gets worse. Venous leg ulcers, on the other hand, are ulcers that form on your legs and ankles when your veins aren’t functioning properly.
Venous leg ulcers are common, and a majority of them are caused by venous diseases. One of the top reasons people develop leg ulcers is a condition called venous insufficiency.
When you have venous insufficiency, there’s a weakness in the valves of your veins. This leads to your blood moving inefficiently and causes poor circulation. With venous insufficiency, the blood can even flow backward, pooling in the weaker sections of your veins.
The issues venous insufficiency causes with circulation and blood flow damage your veins. These problems also damage the tissues in your legs and ankles surrounding your veins, contributing to nerve damage and preventing healing by not allowing fresh blood to reach the damaged tissue.
What are the warning signs of a venous leg ulcer?
Unless your leg ulcer is the result of an injury or trauma, it’s unlikely to develop overnight. In general, venous leg ulcers take months and sometimes years to form into a noticeable, open sore.
The good news is that there are signs and symptoms you’re at risk for developing a leg ulcer before a visible sore appears. Some of the warning signs most often associated with venous ulcers include:
- Discolored skin, usually around the ankles (reddish-brown or purple)
- Skin that feels very dry
- Very firm skin
- Chronic swelling in your legs or ankles
- Visibly enlarged or swollen veins
- An extremely heavy sensation in the legs
Skin changes are typically one of the first signs that an ulcer may appear. If left untreated, the affected area may cause swelling and aching in your legs and ultimately an ulcer.
If you’re experiencing any signs of a venous leg ulcer, don’t wait to seek medical help. Early treatment might stop a leg ulcer from developing. If you already have an open sore, the sooner you get treatment the more likely it is that our team of experts can stop it from worsening or getting infected.
Are there ways to prevent venous leg ulcers?
One of the best ways to prevent venous leg ulcers from forming is to get help right away if you have any of the warning signs for them or other vascular diseases. We provide customized advice to protect your vascular health and prevent leg ulcers.
If you have vascular disease and want to halt the development of leg ulcers, there are some steps you can take. Make sure to get moderate exercise every day and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
You’ll also want to make adjustments to your diet if you’re overweight or obese. If you spend long hours on your feet, be sure to wear compression stockings to support healthy circulation.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of leg ulcers or to learn more about the condition, schedule an appointment by contacting the Hamptons Vein & Vascular office nearest you today.