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Understanding Leg Ulcers

Compression hosiery is often part of the treatment program for leg ulcers (chronic venus leg ulceration). Such ulcers require medical treatment in order to deal with the cause of the problem, to relieve the associated pain, and to prevent more serious health issues that may otherwise arise.


Causes of Leg Ulcers

The most common cause is simply poor blood circulation, most commonly caused by the inability of the veins to properly return blood from the legs back to the heart. The usual cause of such circulation problems is a weakening of the one-way valves within the leg that prevent the blood from returning to the leg after it is pumped out by the normal contraction of our leg muscles.

It is not currently know exactly how or why poor vein circulation causes a leg ulcer to occur.

Leg Ulcer Symptoms

  • leg ulcers are usually found on the lower part of the leg or on the ankle
  • the ulcer appears as a sunken, asymmetrically shaped wound
  • the edge of the ulcer is usually clearly defined
  • the surrounding skin is intact, but inflamed
  • the surrounding skin may be pigmented, hardened or calloused
  • a yellowish-white pus may be present
  • there may be pain, usually when standing
  • the leg will usually exhibit varicose veins

The Risk Factors for Leg Ulcers

  • Old age is a primary factor simply because our circulation in the extremes of our bodies, such as the legs, becomes less efficient as we age. 
  • Varicose veins, usually caused by problems with the one-way valves in our legs, are veins that have been stretched and allow blood to pool in the vein.
  • Smoking - tobacco constricts the vessels of the circulatory system
  • arterial disease - when someone has associated diseases of the arteries, vein problems are more likely
  • Diabetes and arthritis can increase the risk of leg ulcers.
  • Pressure sores, sometimes called bed sores, are damage to the skin caused by the constant pressure or friction of those who are bed-bound
  • Medication - some cardiovascular drugs can contribute to leg edema and changes in circulation

Dealing With Leg Ulcers

Leg ulcers are very treatable. If you have any of the symptoms that may indicate a leg ulcer, or may be at high risk for such ulcers due to your age or other conditions, it is important to check with your physician and talk about whether venous leg ulceration is a problem for you.

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