What are the Symptoms of Leg Ulcers?
Associated symptoms of a venous leg ulcer are caused by blood not flowing properly through your veins. This is known as venous insufficiency.
Symptoms of leg ulcers may include:
- Stinging Leg pain, which can be continuous, or intermittent
- Pitting edema, where swollen ankles are filled with fluid that temporarily holds the imprint of your finger when pressed
- Hyperpigmentation, or discolouration and darkening of your skin around the ulcer
- Lipodermatosclerosis, or hardened skin around the ulcer, which may make your leg feel rigid
- Atrophie blanche, or small, smooth areas of white skin, which may have tiny red spots
- A 'heavy' feeling in the affected leg
- Venous eczema, or itchy, irritated skin which is caused by high blood pressure in the veins of your leg
What Causes Leg Ulcers?
Years of research have shown that the usual causes of leg ulcers are not a problem with the skin itself, but rather with the underlying blood supply to the skin. Therefore successful prevention for leg ulcers and successful treatment for leg ulcers must be directed at correcting the underlying cause, not the ulcer itself.
Because blood supply to the skin is crucial, ulcers can occur as a result of poor circulation and so it is also mostly associated with disorders that affect circulation, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension. Leg and foot ulcers can also be worsened by secondary bacterial and viral infections and be associated with surrounding eczema. Ulcers are also commonly associated with depressed or lowered immune systems.
Diagnosing Leg Ulcers
Diagnosis is usually made based on symptoms, location and the way the surrounding skin of the ulcer looks. A diagnosis is determined by the patient’s medical history, a thorough physical examination by a wound specialist or physician, and laboratory tests, which may include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and noninvasive vascular studies to help develop a treatment plan.
Leg Ulcers in the Elderly
Leg ulcers usually occur in the elderly more so than any other age group, due to poor circulation in aging limbs. Ulcers in the elderly affect their quality of life, especially if they are affected by them chronically. Many elderly individuals are inactive, making it very hard to treat ulcers in a traditional manner.
Two conditions that add to the complications of leg ulcers in the elderly are obesity and diabetes. Since many elderly individuals spend a majority of their time sitting, one of the best remedies is to keep their legs elevated, preferably above the heart.
Treatments for Leg Ulcers
Treatment for leg ulcers should include weight loss if you are overweight and regular exercise to promote good circulation. Body detox can also help to purify the blood and cleanse the system. Treatment for leg ulcers greatly depends on the factors that cause the ulcer or have prevented healing.
Once the causes of leg ulcers are under control, (for example the blood sugar level in diabetes) the ulcer should heal by itself. Treatment may involve wound cleansing, anti-inflammatory treatment and application of dressings. So long as there is no arterial disease, venous leg and foot ulcers will benefit from elevation and compression dressings.
If an underlying disease is one of the causes of leg ulcers, it's important that it is treated - for example hardening of the arteries. Leg and foot ulcers have a tendency to recur in elderly people, and sometimes may require years of therapy.
Natural Remedies for Leg Ulcers
Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to promote and improve circulation throughout the body. One such ingredient is Ginkgo biloba - an extremely effective herb used to restore the functioning of the circulatory system and improve peripheral blood flow to the extremities.
Zingiber officinalis is another herb known as a strong anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, while Rosmarinus officinale (Rosemary) can help to dilate and strengthen blood vessels. For skin health, Natrium muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum and Kalium sulphate are three homeopathic ingredients hailed for their ability to cleanse blood and lymph, help eliminate waste in the blood and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Furthermore, by providing essential oxygen to inflamed or infected cells, Kali. sulph. effectively assists healing, reduces inflammation and removes infected or dead cells. Ferrum phos is another well known biochemic tissue salt to promote the supply of oxygen rich blood to all cells of the body and will also prove helpful at the first signs of an infection.