How Venous Leg Ulcers Are Treated
Most venous leg ulcers heal within 3 to 4 months if they’re treated by a healthcare professional trained in compression therapy for leg ulcers.
But some ulcers may take longer to heal, and a very small number never heal.
Treatment usually involves:
- cleaning and dressing the wound
- using compression, such as bandages or stockings, to improve the flow of blood in the legs
Antibiotics may also be used if the ulcer becomes infected, but they do not help ulcers heal.
But unless the underlying cause of the ulcer is addressed, there’s a high risk of a venous leg ulcer coming back after treatment.
Underlying causes could include immobility, obesity, previous DVT or varicose veins.
What Are The First Signs Of A Leg Ulcer
A leg ulcer is a break in the skin located on the feet, legs, ankles, and back that forms gradually as tissue slowly breaks down and causes lesions on the skin. At first, the ulcer may be smaller and look like a common sore or wound. They can also be painless, leading many people to ignore their situation altogether and fail to seek medical treatment. As time goes by, a leg ulcer generally wont show improvement within a range of four weeks to three months.
They also tend to ooze and bleed and present a heightened risk of infection as they continue to resist traditional treatment. Just a few of the more common symptoms of leg ulcers that wont heal include:
- Hair loss near the ulcer
In terms of what causes a leg ulcer, there are many reasons why you might have one or several leg ulcers. At the top of the list is poor circulation issues in the legs and feet. Other serious conditions include complications from diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, prolonged pressure from immobility or a sedentary lifestyle, surgeries gone wrong, poor blood flow throughout the body, low oxygen, lymphedema, and even trauma.
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Getting Diagnosed With A Leg Ulcer
If you have a wound or sore that isnt healing, make an appointment at your GP practice as it could turn into or be the beginnings of a leg ulcer. You might be given an appointment to see the nurse rather than the doctor as nurses are often responsible for caring for patients with leg problems.
Alternatively, there might be a Leg Club or specialist leg clinic in your area. You can attend these without having to be referred by your GP.
Remember to remove any nail polish from your toenails before your appointment.
When you see the nurse or doctor, they should:
- Ask about your symptoms and how long you have had problems
- Examine your lower legs
- Do a simple test called a Doppler ultrasound. This test compares blood flow in your ankle with that in your arm to find out if there are blood flow problems in your lower leg. You may have to come back to have your Doppler test on another day or at another clinic.
You may also be offered some other tests to check for other health problems that can affect your legs such as diabetes and anaemia.
If your GP practice thinks you have problems with your veins or arteries, they may refer you for more tests at your local hospital or specialist clinic.
You may hear different words to describe your wound such as ulcer, leg ulcer, sore, laceration, chronic wound and maybe others. Ask your nurse to explain their choice of word and what this may mean for you.
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Take Pressure Off The Area
If a wound continues to reopen or experience damage, it wont heal quickly and may get much worse. So avoid putting stress, pressure and weight on wounds.
This can be tricky for some wounds like ones on your feet. If you need help, talk to your doctor about ways to protect your wounds while maintaining mobility. Special shoes and customized foot padding are common options.
Why Isnt My Wound Getting Better
While cancer can sometimes present as a chronic wound, chronic wounds typically fall into three main categories: diabetes-related ulcers, venous leg ulcers and pressure ulcers.
1. Diabetes-related ulcers
People who have diabetes are at greater risk for chronic wounds. Several factors contribute to this, including:
- Neuropathy: Loss of feeling in the feet makes it more likely that small cuts or trauma will go unnoticed, leaving wounds at risk for infection.
- Poor blood flow: Insufficient blood flow to the legs makes it harder for wounds to heal.
- Infection: Compromised ability to fight infection puts people with diabetes at greater risk for wounds that progressively worsen and may require amputation.
To control chronic wounds, people with diabetes should make sure theyre eating enough protein, hydrating properly and maintaining control of their blood sugar levels. It is also important to wear shoes that dont create sores and keep toenails cut short.
Anyone who has diabetes should seek medical attention for any foot wound as soon as possible. It cant wait, Dr. Cavaliere says. The stakes are too high, and you need to make sure any infection is addressed.
2. Venous leg ulcers
Treatment options for venous ulcers may include:
- Compression garments: ACE bandages or compression stockings help prevent fluid from pooling in the legs and can stave off future leg ulcers.
- Vascular intervention: A vascular surgeon can help identify what underlying cause is contributing to leg ulcers.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Might Have A Leg Ulcer
If you have any concerns about the condition of your legs, even if you dont have exactly the same symptoms as described above, its important to seek advice. If you have a wound or sore that isnt healing, make an appointment at your GP practice as it could turn into or be the beginnings of a leg ulcer. You might be given an appointment to see the nurse rather than the doctor as nurses are often responsible for caring for patients with leg problems.
Red Light Therapy For Slow
Red light therapy is a natural and safe way to support and speed up the bodys natural wound healing process. Also known as low-level light therapy or photobiomodulation , red light therapy is an effective treatment for skin health, muscle recovery, neuropathy, and wound care.
The term red light therapy refers to both red and near-infrared wavelengths of light, which are used to stimulate beneficial biological processes. The wavelengths with the most widely studied therapeutic value include red light, from 630 nanometers to 660nm and NIR, from 810nm to 850nm.
The power of red light therapy was first discovered in the late 1980s by NASA scientists who were studying ways to grow plants in space. The scientists tending the plants found that their hand wounds healed faster when exposed to red and NIR LED lights.
This accidental discovery sparked interest in using light to improve human health. To date, thousands of independent studies and scientific papers have demonstrated the effectiveness of red light therapy.
Also Check: Sore On Leg That Won’t Heal
How Are Leg Ulcers Diagnosed
A vascular specialist a healthcare provider specializing in the circulatory system and knowledgeable about wound care can examine the ulcer. Your provider will examine your skin and the wound.
You may also get:
- Ankle-brachial index test, which uses ultrasound technology to measure blood pressure and blood flow in the legs.
- Biopsy to check skin cells and fluid from the wound for infections and skin diseases.
Treatment For Peripheral Vascular Disease Wounds
If youve been living with painful symptoms or peripheral vascular disease wounds on your legs, its time to find a treatment center you can trust. Living with limited mobility and leg wounds that do not heal is not your only option. If youre worried about undergoing surgery to treat your PAD, thats not a problem either.
At USA Vascular Centers, we offer non-surgical, office-based treatments that take less than two hours from start to finish. Our vascular specialists utilize interventional techniques like live x-ray guidance to treat peripheral artery disease before it worsens.
If you want to learn more about treating peripheral vascular disease wounds and symptoms, give us a call at or schedule your consultation conveniently online.
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vascular Centers, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vein Clinics, and USA Oncology Centers with more than 90 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home, and his mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.
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How To Care For A Wound That Wont Heal
How quickly any wound heals depends on a number of factors, including your age, diet, medications and health status. Theres also the wound itself: Where on your body was it sustained? How deep is it? How severe is it?
Generally speaking, most woundsknown as acute woundsare expected to heal within a certain timeframe, following a relatively predictable process. But what happens when a wound doesnt heal, or when the process stalls in an unexpected way?
In these cases, the wound is considered to be chronic. The best treatment for chronic wounds will vary from one person to the next, depending on your medical history, any current health conditions and the unique features of the wound itself.
In general, if your wound has not started to heal after two weeks, or has not healed completely within six weeks, you should consider making an appointment with an outpatient-based wound care expert. HCA Houston Healthcares outpatient centers take a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to wound care, and provide standard and advanced therapies to accelerate the wound healing process, and can permanently resolve your injury.
Causes And Treatments For Wounds That Won’t Heal
Wounds that won’t heal even after three months are considered chronic wounds. These wounds may start small as a scratch or a pimple but they continue to scab repeatedly and never get better. While a chronic wound can certainly cause several complications, you can always try some treatment options to make things more manageable. It is always better to consult your healthcare provider, but let’s find out what steps you can take on your own.
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How To Treat Minor Open Wounds With Red Light At Home
Serious wounds should always be treated by a doctor. For minor wounds that are slow to heal, you can use LED panels to administer red and NIR light therapy in the comfort of home.
Heres what you need to know about using red light therapy for treating minor wounds. We recommend several 10- to 20-minute treatments each week until the wound has healed.
The PlatinumLED BIO series, for example, lets you choose 660nm and 850nm wavelengths, which you can use individually or simultaneously in a 50/50 ratio.
The PlatinumLED BIOMAX series uses five different red and NIR wavelengths in a proprietary ratio based on the latest research into red light, to ensure every layer of the wound is treated by both red and NIR light.
Click the following link to learn more about PlatinumLEDs FDA-approved, medical-grade light therapy panels.
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- A skin wound that fails to heal, heals slowly or heals but tends to recur is known as a chronic wound.
- The treatment recommended by your doctor depends on your age, health and nature of your wound.
- Contrary to popular belief, chronic wounds are more likely to heal if they are treated with moist rather than dry dressings.
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The Bottom Line: Find Holistic Treatment For Wounds That Wont Heal
A non-healing wound isnt like an ear infection that disappears with a single round of antibiotics. Its a serious and complex condition that requires dedicated holistic treatment to heal. That is why its so important to find an experienced wound care specialist who can help you address your non-healing wounds.
The team at R3 Wound Care and Hyperbarics offers state-of-the-art HBOT treatments designed to address your unique medical needs and help you enjoy your life without the hindrance and dangers of wounds that wont heal.
Better yet, the team at R3 Wound Care doesnt simply offer HBOT and send you home we specialize in creating customized, holistic treatment plans that address the root causes of your non-healing wound and help you protect your body from injuries in the future. Using the healing power of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and evidence-based wound-healing techniques, we can help you experience the healing your body needs.
R3 has offices in the following locations of Texas: Fort Worth , Dallas , San Antonio, and Houston .
What To Do When A Wound Wont Heal
Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves. Over time and with the right care, most skin wounds will heal.
But what if the wound doesnt heal?
The skin is your bodys largest organ and accounts for six to eight pounds of body weight and 20 square feet on the average person. Fundamentally, your skin is a protective layer. It is your bodys first line of defense against germs and everything else in the external environment.
When your skin has a wound that isnt just a paper cut actually its a more severe injury, such as a severe burn, ulcer or a crush injury you may need to see a wound care specialist.
The problem of chronic, severe wounds is pervasive. Chronic wounds affect 6.5 million people and cost more than $25 billion annually, according to one study published in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration.
According to the study, the most common types of chronic wounds include:
Pressure ulcers This wound occurs when excessive friction injures the skin and the underlying tissue. It usually affects people who are immobile, like those who are bedridden or wheelchair bound.
Diabetic foot ulcers Often times, people with diabetes lose feeling in their feet. So, they may have a wound and not know it until it becomes truly problematic, says Dawn Falls, registered nurse and Wound Care Center Coordinator at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.
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What Should I Do If My Leg Ulcer Or Foot Ulcer Isnt Getting Any Smaller
If your ulcer fails to progress, and reduce in size a referral should be made to a specialist service such as a Tissue Viability Nurse or your local Leg Club. If you have an ulcer that your GP or local specialist are struggling to heal, you can also ask to be referred to Accelerate, one of our coalition partners, while they are based in London, they do accept referrals from all over the UK, but you will need your GP to start this process.
If you dont feel youre getting the help and support you need locally, you can get in touch with your local NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service who offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters.
If that doesnt work, you can even let your local MP know youre not getting the treatment you deserve. Weve popped together a handy guide on how to do this.
When Is Surgery Needed
Sometimes, more serious cases of venous insufficiency require surgery. Your doctor may suggest one of the following:
- Surgically repairing veins or valves.
- Removing the damaged vein.
- Minimally invasive endoscopic surgery .
- Laser surgery .
Surgical procedures include:
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What Treatment Might I Be Offered
Compression therapy if your wound isnt healing because of venous hypertension and there are no problems with the arterial blood supply to your legs, then you should be offered compression therapy. Compression therapy usually works very effectively and helps wounds to heal fast. It is thus essential to find a compression regime that is comfortable, provides the level of support you need and works. If this is inconsistently used or applied, this must be dealt with so that healing is not delayed
Compression therapy improves blood supply by applying pressure to the leg. This can be done by bandaging the lower leg or by wearing supportive socks, stockings or tights. To begin with it can be a little uncomfortable when you first start treatment but should not cause you any pain it should feel supportive to your leg. Any discomfort should reduce as the swelling goes down. If you do experience discomfort, talk to your nurse or doctor about it and they will advise you on ways of alleviating this.