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Published on September 07, 2022

Preventing and Treating Venous Leg Ulcers

Preventing and Treating Venous Leg Ulcers

According to Marcus Duda, MD, a Greensboro orthopedist and member of the Cone Health MedicalGroup, leg ulcers are the most common chronic wound in Western countries.

Leg ulcerations are most often caused by inadequate circulation and diabetes. The most common type of circulatory insufficiency is venous hypertension. Venous hypertension is the result of valves in the veins that start to leak causing the blood to run back downhill in the veins of the legs. This back flow of blood causes the veins to swell and leak fluid out of the veins which then builds up in the legs causing swelling, skin color changes, and fluid weeping out of the legs. The swelling stretches the tiny blood vessels in the skin and cuts off circulation to the skin causing it to ulcerate. If left untreated, infection can set in and create painful sores. It’s important to seek medical care early.

“Elevation, exercise and compression are the keys to prevention and treatment,” shares Dr. Duda. “The focus is on improving circulation through the vein up the leg and back to the heart.”

First, elevation helps improve circulation. When your foot is elevated level with the heart, blood can easily return to the heart. Second, exercising calf muscles helps pump blood back up the leg. Finally, compression is necessary to restore valve function and keep blood from leaking down the veins.

Graduated compression stockings or compression wraps push the blood up the leg to decrease swelling. Compression stockings are available in three graduated compressions. Consult with your doctor on which graduated compression treatment is right for you. Higher compression socks require a prescription and good arterial circulation.

“For those at risk of venous ulcers, consider wool or alpaca graduated compression socks and wash them frequently according to care instructions,” he advises. “Avoid wearing cotton socks, which can trap moisture and cause possible fungal infections.”

“If you follow these three simple treatments, you can reduce your risk of venous hypertension leg swelling and enjoy pain-free, healthy legs,” concludes Dr. Duda.