Venous Leg Ulcers

Written by: Jenna Warnimont, OMS-II

Venous ulcers are the most common type of ulcer seen on the leg. They are a result of the leakage of blood out from veins of the lower limb into surrounding tissues and can be associated with different diseases and conditions. 


If you are looking for expert treatment for venous leg ulcers, contact OrthoNeuro today! Our podiatry specialists are helping many patients throughout Columbus, OH.  

A patient at OrthoNeuro treating venous leg ulcers.

What Are Venous Ulcers?

Venous ulcers are a chronic condition that can take a long time to heal. Estimated healing time ranges from weeks to months. 

How Do Venous Leg Ulcers Form?

Lower limb venous ulcers form due to issues with blood flow in the leg. 

The heart is constantly pumping blood throughout the body and works hard to pump oxygenated blood to your feet. However, getting blood back up to the heart, against gravity, is not as easy as it seems. 

The human body combats gravity through the use of one-way valves in the veins of the legs to assist with the movement of blood from the feet back up to the heart. When these valves fail, blood cannot be successfully pumped back up to the heart, resulting in the pooling of blood in the lower limb. 

Failure of these venous valves and the pooling of blood in the lower limb can lead to a breakdown of the skin of the lower, leading to (you guessed it!) venous leg ulcers. 

What Are Associated Diseases and Risk Factors?

Associated diseases of venous leg ulcers include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes 
  • Blood clots or venous obstruction
  • Obesity 

Associated risk factors for venous leg ulcers include:

  • Surgery
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • Older age 
  • Smoking 
  • Family history of venous disease 

Signs and Symptoms of Venous Leg Ulcers 

The signs and symptoms associated with venous leg ulcers include the following:

  • Irregular shapes sores of the lower limb
  • Discoloration of the surrounding skin 
  • Swelling
  • Pain 
  • Itching  
  • Leg cramping or aches 
  • Swollen, enlarged veins (varicose veins)
  • Signs of pooling blood – red/purple/brown spots with the hardening of the surrounding skin 
  • Warm to the touch 

If the leg ulcers are infected, they may have visible pus or drainage, foul odor, warm to the touch, and increased pain around the ulcer. 

How Are Venous Leg Ulcers Diagnosed?

Lower limb venous ulcers can be diagnosed by a thorough physical exam and health history by a healthcare professional. 

Additional tests may be done to assist with the diagnosis of this condition. Examples of these tests include:

How Are Venous Leg Ulcers Treated?

There may be several methods employed to treat venous leg ulcers. Your orthopedic surgeon may use the following:

  • Treatment of underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes 
  • Compression to help improve circulation
  • Elevation of the lower limb 
  • Antibiotics, orally and/or topically, for any infections
  • Wound care, including cleaning and bandaging 
  • Procedures done by a healthcare professional to remove dead tissue from the ulcer   

How to Prevent Venous Leg Ulcers

In order to prevent venous leg ulcers, you could try the following:

  • Compression stockings
  • Managing chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Increased physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight 

Here at OrthoNeuro, we have highly trained foot, ankle, and podiatry specialists who can help diagnose, treat, and help prevent the recurrence of these ulcers. Call us today or make an appointment online for expert foot and ankle care in Columbus, Ohio.


Medically Reviewed by Ralph Napolitano, DPM

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