Plainfield (815) 439-1188 15724 S. Rt 59 Unit 100
Bolingbrook (630) 226-9860 215 Remington Blvd., Suite A2

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Ulcers – Chronic Wounds


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Foot and leg ulcers, which are open sores in the skin, are commonly seen in patients who have vascular disease, neuropathy, or diabetes. These open wounds, which are often slow to heal and tend to recur, can put patients at increased risk for developing an infection in the skin, muscle, and bone.

What Causes Foot and Lower Leg Ulcers?

These chronic wounds are often caused by excess pressure due to ill-fitting footwear, long periods of inactivity, or after an injury to the skin. People suffering from poor circulation and diabetes are more likely to develop foot ulcers and healing can be difficult for these patients.

Foot and lower leg ulcers are especially common in individuals who have one or more of the following health problems:

  • Peripheral neuropathy – This is damage to the nerves of the lower portions of the legs and feet, often caused by diabetes. With this type of damage, nerves are no longer able to sense pain – and a tight-fitting shoe can easily cause a foot ulcer where the foot has become numb.
  • Circulatory problems – Any illness that causes less blood to reach the feet deprives cells of oxygen. This increases the skin’s vulnerability to injury, while slowing the foot’s ability to heal.
  • Abnormalities in the muscles or bones of the feet – When the normal anatomy of the foot is distorted for any reason, it can lead to foot ulcers because the foot is often forced into shoes that don’t fit properly.
  • Diabetes – Diabetics have a particularly high risk of developing foot ulcers because they often suffer from neuropathy and circulatory problems.
  • Atherosclerosis – This causes poor circulation – especially in the legs and feet.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon – This condition causes sudden episodes of diminished blood flow to the toes and fingers.

It is rare for a person who has none of these risk factors or illnesses to develop an ulcer on their foot or lower leg. When this does happen, it’s important to check for skin cancer, as squamous cell carcinoma occasionally mimics a foot ulcer.

Symptoms

A foot ulcer appears as a red crater on the skin and is most often located on the bottom or side of the foot or on the tip or top of a toe. It may be surrounded by a border of callused skin which develops over time. Symptoms can also include drainage and odor.

In some cases, an ulcer may be deep enough to expose bones or tendons, and if the nerves in the foot are functioning properly, the ulcer will be painful – even if it isn’t very deep. If the patient has lost nerve function, they may not even know the ulcer exists, especially if it is located on a hidden portion of the foot.

Treatment

If you have adequate circulation in your foot, your foot doctor in Bolingbrook may treat the ulcer by trimming away diseased tissue, a procedure called debridement. Then he or she will apply a dressing and may prescribe specialized footwear to relieve pressure on the area. This may be a cast, or a loose-fitting postoperative walking shoe worn over a bandage.

Your doctor will need to examine and debride the area frequently, and a nurse may be needed to visit and change the dressing in between these appointments. This treatment will continue for as long as it takes for the ulcer to heal completely. Antibiotics may be prescribed if your doctor feels there is a risk of infection.

Ulcers that do not respond to this conservative therapy may require surgery. Depending on the patient, surgery to open one or more blocked arteries may be necessary, and for more significant problems, surgery to reroute blood flow may be required.

When to Call Your Foot Doctor in Bolingbrook

If you have poor circulation, diabetes, or peripheral neuropathy, examine your feet carefully each day and call your doctor promptly if you see redness, swelling, blisters, bleeding, or any other abnormality on the foot’s surface. We welcome any questions you might have, so please feel free to call our office for more information.

Questions? Contact Us Today

Two Convenient Locations

Plainfield

15724 S. Rt 59 Unit 100

Plainfield, IL 60544

815-439-1188 phone

815-439-2453 fax

Illinois Podiatric Medical Association

Bolingbrook

215 Remington Blvd., Suite A2

Bolingbrook, IL 60440

630-226-9860 phone

815-439-2453 fax

American Podiatric Medical Association