Last time, Mr Sharma told us why he began walking regularly to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. In this post, we share some key facts about foot ulcers and how you can prevent them.
What are foot ulcers?
An ulcer is an open sore/wound caused due to a break in the body lining or skin surface. If a leg ulcer lasts more than six weeks, it is called a chronic foot ulcer. The most common types (almost 80%) of foot ulcers are venous ulcers.
What are venous foot ulcers and what causes them?
The blood in our legs travels back to the heart via the leg veins. When a leg vein experiences sustained pressure (due to continuous standing or sitting), the finer micro-vessels get pinched. This affects the blood supply to certain spots leading to lack of oxygen and nutrients. Any small injury in these spots often turns into an ulcer. Medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or superficial venous reflux (venous blood flowing back to legs) create sustained pressure on veins. Venous ulcers usually form below the knee and on the inner area of the ankle. These ulcers are known to affect older people more.
Some of the reasons and indicators of foot ulcers in legs include:
- Varicose veins
- Blood clots
- Limited movement
- Prior or existing injuries
Why is it important to prevent/treat a foot ulcer?
Ignoring a foot ulcer can lead to very serious medical complications. Untreated infections in foot ulcers can lead to severe complications including even loss of limbs, bone infections (osteomyelitis), skin and underlying fat infection (cellulitis), and gangrene (death of body tissue due to low blood flow).
How to prevent/treat a (venous) foot ulcer?
If you have already developed foot ulcers, visit a doctor immediately. They will help you figure out the next steps to prevent infections and treat the ulcer rapidly.
To prevent a foot ulcer, follow these steps:
- Move around regularly. Limited movement leads to varicose veins and DVT which cause foot ulcers. Stimulate leg movement while working, driving, or watching TV using devices like the SitWalker if you can’t move around to increase the blood flow in the legs.
- Wearing properly sized footwear can help prevent injuries in your feet. These injuries tend to develop into sores and foot ulcers that can become serious.
- If you are diabetic, check your feet for minor injuries regularly. This will prevent ulcers and infections.
We tend to get foot ulcers as we grow older. Foot ulcers are very common and affect approximately 2% of all adults at some stage in their life. With the right care to ensure good blood flow in your legs, you can prevent foot ulcers and stop them from becoming infectious.