Introducing ankle ulcers
An ulcer is a term that describes a lesion or an open wound or sore. An ulcer does not heal fast. It does so slowly. Ulcers arise from the breakdown of skin tissue. In many cases, it is painful. There are three major kinds of ulcers:
- venous stasis
- diabetic (neurotrophic)
The most common ulcer that affects the lower part of the human body is known as venous stasis ulcer. The ankle is the most affected. A study by the Cleveland Clinic shows that 80 to 90 percent of the lower leg ulcers are actually venous stasis ulcers.
The causes of ankle ulcers
Ulcers that affect the ankle – venous stasis ulcers, are mostly caused by venous hypertension or chronic venous insufficiency. In this condition, the blood fails to flow smoothly back to the heart. This results in pressure buildup in the veins. The pressure, in turn, causes skin ulceration. Venous stasis ulcers will form inside the legs, just above the ankle.
We do not know the exact mechanism by which this condition causes ankle ulcer. Most experts in the medical field are of the opinion that the ulcer arises as a result of a
Risk factors for ankle ulcers
Factors that increases the risk of venous stasis ulcers include:
- history of leg swelling
- Blood clotting
- Varicose veins
- Inflammation and inflammatory diseases
If ulcer runs in your family, maybe one or two members of your family have had it, then there is a possibility of you also having it. The occurrence of ankle ulcer is also boosted by smoking. Smoking of tobacco products impedes the flow of blood through the general circulation.
Symptoms of ankle ulcers
One major characteristic of ankle ulcers is that they do not cause pain. However, the patient may feel a slight itch or a
Diagnosing ankle ulcers
Diagnosis begins by investigating the symptoms and asking questions about your medical history. It is imperative that you keep a record of all your symptoms as they will allow your physician to make the right diagnosis. If the ulcer has been there for some time, then a biopsy will be done to ensure that there is no cancer. CT Scans, MRIs, and radiography helps to verify the depth of the ulcer and to also check if the bone has been affected. The ulcer will also be examined to be sure whether it has been infected or not.
Treatments for ankle ulcers
The primary aim of treating an ulcer is to cure any possible infection, relieve you of the pain, and heal the wound that is characteristic of the ulcer.
Compression therapy is the first line treatment for venous stasis ankle ulcers. With compression therapy, the swelling is reduced while the healing process is facilitated. Compression also prevents a repeat of the ulcer.
Compression therapy can be done with the use of wraps, compression stockings, or an elastic bandage. This is wrapped along the leg, up to the knee level. So, it is left for you to book an appointment with your doctor, and then determine what compression method works best for you.
Some medications can be used for treatment, if the compression doesn’t give the desired effect. Medications that may be used include aspirin and pentoxifylline. Diuretics may also be administered for a short period of time if the swelling is significant.
Ensure that you take the prescribed medications.
Ulcers usually have a trademark wound. In fact, ulcers generally are identified by the wound. Dressings that may be used for the wounds include skin substitute dressings, collagen, antimicrobial, and composite dressings. An appointment with your doctor will allow you to learn the advantages of each type of dressing, and which will be most suitable for you. You may be referred to a clinic that specializes in wound treatment. Ensure that the ulcer area remains clean at all times, and change the dressing as at when due. This will boost the healing process.
Drinking a lot of fluids also help. Make sure that your diet is healthy, and get a lot of rest and exercise. Good health speeds up the healing process.
Preventing ankle ulcers
One way of preventing the development of ankle ulcers is by raising the legs above the heart level for half an hour, many times during the day. Limit the duration of time spent sitting or standing. This will minimize the pressure and the swelling that triggers the venous stasis ulcer. It will also enhance the circulation of blood.
If it is possible, you can elevate your legs while on the
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.