Venous Leg Ulcers: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment
Venous leg ulcers may develop in patients with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI is a condition that occurs when damaged valves in the veins fail to close properly, preventing the normal return of blood to the heart. As a result, blood pools in the leg and begins to flow backward. Superficial veins and capillaries dilate in response to the increased venous pressure (venous hypertension) which causes red blood cells, proteins and fluids to leak into the surrounding tissue. Poor circulation further hinders the flow of adequate oxygen and nutrients to the area leading to eventual ulceration.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
Risk factors for CVI and the development of venous leg ulcers include deep vein thrombosis (blood clot), varicose veins, prolonged sitting or standing, weak calf muscles, obesity, smoking and aging.
Symptoms may include:
- Skin discoloration
- Hardening of the skin
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Varicose (twisted and/or protruding) veins
- Pain, aching and leg fatigue
- Itching and flaking of the skin
- Broken skin with exposed tissue
Treatment for CVI is essential to prevent venous leg ulcers. Once a venous leg ulcer has formed, it can be difficult to heal. Components of conservative therapy may include:
- Compression stockings or multi-component bandaging
- Exercise and weight management
- Proper nutrition
- Use of topical wound care agents and dressings to prevent infection, protect the wound bed, and manage exudate (drainage)
If wounds have not healed after conservative therapy is attempted, an at-home pneumatic compression device should be considered. Intermittent and sustained compression using the ACTitouch™ Adaptive Compression Therapy system offers an advanced solution that improves and accelerates healing. All insurance policies are different, please contact us today to learn if you or your patient has coverage for this therapy.