Venous ulcers are frequently mistaken for arterial ulcers. However, a proper history and physical examination in most cases will differentiate between the two ulcers. This is of great importance because venous ulcers are treated in a completely different way from arterial ulcers. The clue to diagnosis of a venous ulcer is the following:
- ulcer is usually on the inside of the ankle
- the leg or foot is swollen
- there may be skin discoloration around the ankle
- patient may have a history of varicose veins
- the leg pulses are always present in an individual with venous ulcer
- absence of diabetes
- non diabetic
When the diagnosis is in doubt an ultrasound test can be done. The test can reveal the presence of venous insufficiency and can also determine for the presence of any peripheral arterial disease.
What increases my risk for venous skin ulcers?
Factors that contribute to venous insufficiency can increase your risk of developing venous skin ulcers. These factors include:
- Obesity. Gain in weight always causes an increase in venous pressure and over time most obese individuals will develop some degree of venous ulcers
- Prior deep vein blood clot. All blood clots can destroy the valves in the veins. Once the valves are destroyed, the vein can no longer push blood out and this results in engorgement of the vein
- Trauma to the leg which has injured the veins.
- Post phlebitic syndrome.
- varicose veins
- Pregnancy. In most women who have had multiple pregnancies, varicose veins occur and often they develop venous ulcers
- family history
- sedentary life style
- previous venous leg surgery
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