Category: Ulcers

Learn Your Risk for Leg Ulcers Now

Do you know your risk for leg ulcers? Lower-leg ulcers are a serious complication that can develop with untreated vein disease.  In order to protect yourself from ulcers, it’s important to understand the risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing this type of wound.

Risk factors for CVD

One of the main reasons people develop ulcers is because of CVD, chronic venous disease. And while we don’t always know why people develop CVD, some contributing factors include: Diagnostic Ultrasound Evaluation

  • Aging
  • Being a woman
  • Being pregnant
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • On the job risks, like all day standing or sitting.

Any one of these factors can increase your risk of compromised blood flow, varicose veins, and, eventually, chronic venous disease. This, in turn, can increase your risk for leg ulcers. Which means you’re more likely to develop an ulcer on your lower legs.

Cholesterol, PAD and Risk for Leg Ulcers

When you have high cholesterol, it builds up in your arteries. Then, plaque can narrow your arteries’ lining (this condition is called atherosclerosis. The plaque is  made of cholesterol and other fatty substances called  triglycerides.)

Because plaque narrows your arteries, and because high cholesterol can trigger plaque buildup, high cholesterol levels increase your risk for peripheral arterial disease (PAD). When you have PAD, your narrowed arteries limit the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches your legs and feet. And that’s where your risk for legs ulcers also rises.

When blood flow to your legs is restricted, sores may develop as blood pools and seeps through your skin. Then, the sores that develop are less likely to heal because of your reduced blood flow. That’s why you’ll need immediate medical attention if you develop an ulcer on your legs.

Warning Signs for Lower Leg Ulcers

Of course, it’s important to remember that not all people who have CVD will develop ulcers. With people who have CVD, you can watch for certain signs that may indicate an ulcer will soon form:

  • Skin changes: CVD patients with varicose veins, thickened skin or venous eczema (also known as varicose eczema, symptoms include itchy, flaky, dry, crusty and/or swollen skin) are more likely to develop an ulcer. We also call this condition venous eczema. Stasis or gravitational eczema also refer to the same condition. When you have stasis eczema, your skin may also change color. It could tighten or harden, a condition we call lipodermatosclerosis. Also, you may develop atrophie blanche, which leaves small white scars on your skin. And eczema may spread to other areas of your body. Steroid creams may relieve your symptoms, and compression stockings can help. But treating your circulatory issues will offer the best and lasting relief.
  • Edema: Studies show that edema is present in about 90% of patients with lower leg ulcers. Edema, or swelling, occurs when you form more lymph fluid than can be drained, or when your lymph material doesn’t flow well. This leads to a build-up of the fluid that results in swelling in your lower legs.

How to Prevent Venous Ulcers

Whether or not you’re displaying ulcer warning signs, you can take measures to prevent this devastating complication. These steps include:

  • Avoiding weight gain
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Regularly moisturizing your skin
  • Avoid cigarettes or any kind of smoking
  • Moving every 30 minutes to avoid long periods of sitting or standing
  • Exercising regularly
  • Treating varicose veins

If you are concerned about developing ulcers, or already have an ulcer in need of attention, it is important to see your Houston area vein specialist right away. Any delay could pose a serious risk to your limbs, as well as your overall health.

 

Sources: NHS.uk, Nursing Times, Our Community Now

 

 

 

New Tips for Treating Leg Ulcers

Leg ulcers are open wounds that are hard to heal. That’s why treating leg ulcers is so tricky. And why new treatment studies and technology are so important. Today, we’ll explore two of those factors. The first is a new study related to the timing of treating leg ulcers. The second is a new technology for treating leg ulcers. Launched by FeelTect, an Irish startup, this ‘Tight Alright’ technology is intended for use in a new medical device. It will sense pressure to help with detecting and treating leg ulcers. But to understand why and how these treatments will work, we must first explore what causes venous leg ulcers.

What are Venous Leg Ulcers and Why Do They Form?

person wearing compression stockings
In conjunction with compression therapy, this new technology could help speed up the healing of ulcers

Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that develop because of venous insufficiency, a condition in which your body can’t circulate blood from your lower limbs. Venous insufficiency sets in when tiny valves in your veins stop working well. Instead of forcing blood back up towards the heart, it pools your legs. Then, your veins get stretched out and fluid builds up in your lower limbs.

You may be at risk for venous leg ulcers if you have a high Body Mass Index (BMI). Living a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk. As can high blood pressure. Finally, if your veins are insufficient, you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or a family history of these conditions, you’re more likely to develop an ulcer. 

Treating Venous Leg Ulcers

Compression therapy is a great first treatment for leg ulcers. The pressure placed on the veins in your lower legs can help get pooling blood out of the area, taking the pressure off your bulging veins and making the excess fluid less likely to contribute to existing ulcers, or to allow new ones to develop.

Now, compression therapy isn’t perfect. If doctors apply too much pressure, it can cut off all circulation to your limbs. Not enough pressure, and the treatment will be wholly ineffective. And, since compression devices cover the area being treated, it can be tough for doctors to determine just how much pressure is being delivered to your veins.

The Tight Alright device is intended to work in conjunction with compression therapy. Using wireless technology, the device measures and monitors the amount of pressure being delivered to your leg beneath the compression bandages.

Alternative Treatments for Leg Ulcers

Clearly, compression therapy isn’t perfect. And while new technology can help, changing treatment protocols may make a bigger difference. According to a new study in JAMA Surgery, compression therapy may not be the best first course of action.

In a clinical trial, 450 leg ulcer patients were instead treated with early interventions. And the results were astounding: patients healed faster. And had a lower risk of repeat problems with ulcers. Their outcomes were better than for those patients who first tried treating leg ulcers with compression therapy. And then turned to other interventions.

Of course, new treatment options keep popping up. In a recent study from the Journal of Experimental Dermatology researchers combined compression therapy with topical cannabinoids. (If you don’t know, cannabinoids are chemical compounds that naturally occur in cannabis plants. They range from non-psychoactive CBD to federally controlled-substances such as THC. And researchers believe they may offer medicinal properties.)

For this study, 14 elderly patients with non-healing leg ulcers received topical cannabis-based treatments, as well as compression bandages. At the end of the study period, 11 of those subjects reported full wound closure. Now, this is an exciting development. But more research, and larger studies, are needed before we can widely recommend this treatment option.

Treating Leg Ulcers in Houston

As vein specialists in the Houston area, we’re watching all the developments when it comes to treating leg ulcers. That way we can always deliver the most up-to-date care for our patients living with vein disease. Ready to explore your leg ulcer treatment options? Schedule an appointment with our specialists today!

Sources: Feeltect.com, JAMA Surgery

Eat This: Zinc, Vitamin B, and Other Nutrients for Vein Health

Did you know that your diet should include important nutrients for vein health? During this COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve been hearing a lot more about the importance of Zinc in your diet.  This is what we know: zinc is a trace element which your immune systems needs to function properly. In fact, zinc is considered a type 2 nutrient because it’s a necessary part of your body’s general metabolism (other type 2 nutrients include protein and magnesium.) So, if you have a zinc deficiency, you’ll be at a higher risk for infections, diseases and viruses like COVID-19.

But supporting immunity isn’t zinc’s only important job. In fact, this little element plays many roles in your body. And a little of it goes a long way: your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) a day for women and 11 mg a day for men.

It’s entirely possible to get your daily zinc dose from your diet (more on that shortly.) Otherwise, talk to your doctor about starting a zinc supplement.

Still waiting to be sold on zinc? Let’s take a closer look at two of its numerous function: supporting immunity and wound healing.

How Does Zinc Regulate Immunity?

Without zinc, our body can’t activate its T lymphocytes (T cells). And we need those T cells for two jobs: controlling and regulating our body’s immune response, and attacking cells that are infected or even cancerous.

What does that all mean for you? If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system just won’t work the way it should. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals, “zinc-deficient persons experience increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens.”

Now, those pathogens range from severe infections to conditions like a common cold. Which is why, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal, zinc supplementation could shorten your cold experience by as much as 40%. Plus, it could make your symptoms less severe while you’re still under the weather. It’s not so surprising, then, that zinc can also help your body heal leg ulcers, a common symptom of vein disease.

How Zinc Helps Heal Your Wounds

Before we explain why zinc can help heal your leg ulcers, let’s review why you might develop this kind of wound. When you have chronic vein problems, you may develop non-healing ulcers or open sores on your lower legs. Also called venous ulcers, they usually develop around your ankle, varying in size from very small to several inches in diameter.

What’s the connection between these two issues? Chronic vein disease causes a progressive inflammatory reaction in your body, and that damages your capillaries and lymphatic ducts. After that damage, fluid leaks into the tissues of your lower legs, causing swelling and depositing hemoglobin in your lower leg tissue.

But that’s not all—capillary damage also decreases your lower leg’s oxygen levels, which translates to poor wound healing and ulcers.

We treat venous ulcers with compression therapy and wound care, while also treating your underlying vein condition. And now we know that zinc could help speed up your healing. Why?

One of zinc’s jobs is to maintain your skin’s health. In fact, you may be more susceptible to leg ulcers if you have a zinc deficiency.  As such, some studies suggest that applying zinc to your wounds could help speed healing, but further research is required before this becomes our primary treatment protocol.

How Can I Add Zinc to my Diet Naturally?

Beans, animal proteins, nuts, fish and seafood are all good sources of zinc. You can also get zinc from whole grain cereals, and dairy products. Top choices for zinc include fortified cereals, Pacific raw oysters, canned baked beans, cooked green peas, yogurt, pecans, lean ground beef and roasted peanuts.

Luckily, you’ve got lots of tasty ways to get your recommended daily zinc intake from diet alone. If, however, you feel you may have a zinc insufficiency, you may consider supplementation. Zinc supplements come in capsule and tablet form.

Keep in mind, however, that too much zinc can also cause problems in your body. So talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your diet. And, if you’re dealing with a leg ulcer right now, don’t delay treatment—regardless of the COVID-19 outbreak, you must stick with your follow up ulcer appointments. Failure to do so could even result in amputation!

Other Nutrients for Vein Health

Now you’ve seen how zinc can help your veins–and COVID 19. But there are other important nutrients you should add to your diet, in order to boost circulation and protect your vascular system. Here are some of the top choices:

Vitamin B

The family of B vitamins can do great things for your vascular health. If you have varicose veins, taking B6 can help them heal. Vitamin B12 improves blood flow, and B3 can lower cholesterol while boosting circulation.

Vitamin B6 can restore vein health, making it a good choice for varicose vein sufferers. Vitamins B6 and B12 promote healthy blood flow. Vitamin B3, or niacin, aids in blood circulation and lowering blood cholesterol.

What to eat: Brown rice, wheat, barley, turkey and tuna.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can preserve flexibility in your vein walls, and reduce arterial inflammation.

What to eat: berries, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, and lemons.

Vitamin K

This nutrient for vein health can help you prevent blood clots! It can also keep blood from pooling, which will reduce your risk for varicose veins.

What to eat: parsley, mustard seeds, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and pumpkin.

Need more help preserving your vein health? That’s what we’re here for! Schedule an appointment with our Houston area vein specialists today. We can get a better picture of your current risk factors, and help you with diet and lifestyle changes to treat any existing issues.

 

 

Sources: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Open Respiratory Medicine Journal

How and Why to Stick With Your Leg Ulcer Care

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve stayed home more, often delaying medical care. Of course, this means delaying procedures that are purely optional. But if you’ve developed a leg ulcer, your treatment and follow-up care isn’t optional. In fact, it’s crucial to your health—especially in terms of preventing amputations!

Under the circumstances, we’d like to share a suggested screening protocol for your vein specialist visit. Keep in mind, every office visit will be different. But if you’ve had or are currently dealing with a leg ulcer, consider this your assessment guidelines.

What is a Leg Ulcer and Why Would I Get One?

Leg ulcers are just open sores that don’t heal in the typical time-frame. Often, you develop leg ulcers if you have chronic vein problems. Typically, they develop around your ankle, ranging in size from very small to several inches in diameter. Sometimes, these sores don’t hurt that much. But, for many patients, their venous ulcers become very painful and develop infections.

Why does chronic vein disease lead to ulcer development? CVD causes inflammation in your body, and that inflammation damages your capillaries and lymphatic ducts. This damage allows fluid to leak out of your capillaries, which can cause swelling in your lower legs. And, as fluid builds up in your leg’s soft tissue, sores may develop.

So, now you’ve got a sore. But why won’t it heal? Here’s the story: that capillary damage also means your lower legs have lower oxygen levels. And less oxygen inhibits your body’s ability to heal itself. That’s when your open sores or ulcers stick around. Unless, of course, you seek treatment.

What Your Vein Specialist Will Do During Your Ulcer Visit

When you come into our Houston area vein clinics, we’re going to address your ulcer. But we’ll also treat your underlying condition, so you don’t keep dealing with these open sores.

In order to treat your ulcer, we’ll take a two-pronged approach: wound care and compression therapy. We’ll care for your wound by keeping the sore clean to prevent infection. And we’ll dress it with sterile bandages to keep your wound clean.

We’ll also recommend appropriate compression therapy, in the form of prescription level compression stockings. These stockings will increase blood flow to your lower legs, which will help speed up your healing process.

New Medication for Leg Ulcers

Studies now suggest that a drug called Oxybryta could play an important role in leg ulcer care if you have sickle cell anemia. While anyone with vein issues may develop leg ulcers, between 14% and 18% of people with sickle cell will get one.

Right now, this drug is only approved for treating leg ulcers in people with sickle cell disease who are over the age of 12. Still, it’s promising news for anyone with compromised circulation or a risk for leg ulcers. And we’ll carefully watch this and other developments to help offer the best leg ulcer care to our patients.

Continued Treatment After Healing

Once your wound is on the path to healing, we can address your underlying vein condition. To do so, we’ll close up the vein that isn’t working properly. Once closed off, blood will flow through the veins that are working appropriately, helping return optimal oxygen levels to your lower legs, and preventing further complications.

We know these are scary times, but leg ulcers are also scary medical developments. So we don’t want you to compromise your vein or limb health out of fear. Please know that we are taking every precaution in our office to protect you and our team members. So don’t wait another day to address your vein health. Make an appointment today to address your ulcers and underlying conditions.

Sources: American Journal of Hematology, Healthcare Improvement Scotland,

Move it Monday: Calf Raises and Circulation

Focusing on calf raises and circulation is key. And good circulation is key to protecting your vein health…and keeping ulcers at bay. When you suffer from chronic vein disease, you are vulnerable to venous leg ulcers: hard-to-heal sores that develop on your legs due to a combination of damaged capillaries and lymphatic ducts, and lack of oxygen in your lower legs. Once they develop, ulcers are hard to heal because, once again, of the shortage of oxygen reaching your lower limbs.

Fortunately, managing your vein disease with doctor-approved exercise can help protect you from developing ulcers. And, if ulcers have already formed, new evidence suggests that certain exercises may speed up your healing process! Want to know which exercises we’re talking about? You may already have guessed this. But if not, we’ll spell it out: calf raises and stretches!

You see, your calves are the large muscles at the back of your legs. They run from just below your knee until  about halfway to your ankle. These muscles have important jobs to do. They let you move forward when you walk and run. They make sure you stay standing. And they absorb the impact of your steps. .

But they’ve got one more role to play when it comes to your circulation. When your calf muscles are strong, they contract with force. And that force can help push blood out of your legs and back towards your heart, making it circulate the way it’s should. Now, the stronger your calf muscles, the greater the force they can offer to help your veins. Which is why making moves like calf raises and stretches can keep these muscles in top form. And may contribute to your greater overall vein health.

Can Calf Raises Cure Venous Leg Ulcers?

According to Dr. Laura Bolton, a member of the Wounds advisory board, evidence suggests that structured exercise training (SET) can help speed up the healing process for both venous leg wounds and diabetic foot ulcers. Chief among those exercises included in the SET program? Calf raises, thanks to their ability to get the heart pumping and improve circulation to the lower extremities.

In her study, 77% of patients with venous leg ulcers had completely healed after a 12-week progressive exercise program; only 53% of non-exercisers enjoyed the same result. When it came to diabetic foot wounds, individuals who exercised for just 30 of the 96-day trial window saw a dramatic result in the size of their ulcers.

In revealing her findings, Bolton said: “This suggests that the more patients engage in calf muscle exercise, the more and earlier they improve their chronic VLU or DFU healing…[This could lead to saving] limbs and lives of patients. ”

Calf-Raise Routine for Improved Circulation

While no vein disease patient should engage in a new exercise routine without a doctor’s supervision, it is a good idea to discuss your physical activity once you’ve been diagnosed with vein health issues. Ask your doctor if it is safe to try this calf-raise routine, and you may just enjoy preventative or healing health benefits!

Standing Calf Raises

Position yourself on a staircase, with your hands resting against a wall or a sturdy object for balance and your heels hanging off the back edge of the stair. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. That’s one rep; aim for three sets of 10-15 reps each. Please note that you may have to build up to that level of performance.

Prefer a move that also harnesses the benefits of walking? Try this on for size: uphill walks are especially good for your calves. But don’t worry if your fitness level isn’t there yet. You can still strengthen your calf muscles by walking on flat surfaces. And you don’t have to set aside a big chunk of time to get these benefits. Set an alarm for every hour or two when you’re at home. Then get up, walk around your house or apartment, and do a few calf raises.  Throughout the day, you’ll be getting a whole lot of help for your veins and circulation.

Need more help with circulation or leg ulcers? That’s what we’re here for. Just schedule a consultation with one of our Houston area vein specialists. We’ll set you up with a program designed to help prevent problems. Or heal any existing concerns.

Sources: Journal of Vascular Surgery

Why You Get Lower Leg Ulcers and How to Treat Them

lower-leg-ulcers

Lower leg ulcers are open sores that don’t heal or keep coming back. Ulcers can develop on your lower legs. They usually show up around the ankles. But they also develop if you put consistent pressure on your foot. We can easily treat small ulcers. And stop them from returning. But if an ulcer is left untreated, it can grow deeper into your skin tissue. Or it may become infected.  In that case, treatment will likely be drastic–and expensive.

How does a lower leg ulcer develop? Are there different kinds of ulcers? Read on to get a better understanding of ulcers and their treatment options. Plus, learn the best methods of prevention.

Venous Ulcers

Venous ulcers are most common on your lower leg. These occur when your leg veins don’t return blood back to the heart. (It’s a condition called chronic venous insufficiency.) Then, the unreturned blood pools in your leg tissue, causing swelling and low oxygen levels. As a result, even small wounds can’t heal. Instead, they get larger, leading to venous stasis ulceration.

Venous ulcers range from being painless to quite painful over time. They usually develop just above the ankle and on the inner leg. A telling sign of a venous ulcer is a brown, rust-colored pigmentation. Once it develops, the ulcer is red in color and possibly tinted with yellow fibrous tissue. A green or yellow discharge is also possible if it is infected. The surrounding skin might be warm and appear shiny and tight.

Venous ulcers usually affect older patients with a history of vein disease, varicose veins, and blood clotting. The fundamental cause is poor circulation, which can be brought on a number of ways, from atherosclerosis, obesity, heart disease, or smoking. Genetics, certain medications, and simply standing or sitting for too long on a daily basis can also factor in.

Diabetic and Arterial Ulcers

Though much less common, diabetic (neurotrophic) and arterial (ischemic) ulcers can be equally dangerous if left untreated. Their cause, appearance, location, and treatment are different from venous ulcers, so it is important to have an expert diagnose them. If left untreated and infected, they can lead to amputation.

Diabetic or neurotrophic ulcers are a result of an impaired sensation in the feet and decrease in wound healing, usually from diabetic nerve damage. They occur at pressure points on the bottom of the feet or wherever a wound has formed. Because of the lack of sensation, the patient is often unaware of them. It is important that diabetic patients inspect their feet daily. They can be pink/red or brown/black with a punched out or calloused/cracked border.

Arterial or ischemic ulcers on the other hand are extremely painful and caused by arterial disease, like atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). They are unable to heal because of lack of blood in the tissue due to poor circulation. They often develop on the feet, especially the toes, and occasionally on the ankles. Their appearance is yellow, brown, gray, or black. They usually do not bleed. Like diabetic ulcers, the surrounding skin appears punched out. The pain is greatest at night and can be relieved by dangling the legs off the bed.

Ulcer Treatments and Prevention compression socks help lower leg ulcers

We can treat venous ulcers in a variety of ways. One key to successful outcomes? Early treatments! According to a new study in JAMA, treating ulcers early (with ablation and compression) is very cost-effective. And it can cut your risk of recurring ulcers.

Now, compression is the most common ulcer treatment. Lifting your legs above your heart, whenever possible, also helps. It’s also important to treat the underlying cause of the ulcer. Now, for venous ulcers, this includes closing the abnormal veins that causing venous insufficiency. Once again, you’d use ablation therapy.

For arterial ulcers, a proper diagnosis must be made to determine the potential for wound healing. Compression therapy does not work for arterial ulcers and can make them worse. Treatments involve attempting to re-vascularize the leg through endovascular therapy. Treatment for neuropathic ulcers include debridement or removal of infected tissue, avoiding pressure on the ulcerated leg, and special shoes to prevent contact irritation.

Ulcers of the lower leg can be prevented by checking your ankles and legs daily for early signs of ulceration. This is key to getting the preventative treatment you need. Taking daily walks, eating healthier, quitting smoking, and anything that improves overall circulation will go a long way in preventing ulcers and venous/heart conditions.

New Ulcer Wound Dressings

While ulcers are open, your vein doctor will need to dress the wounds to avoid infection. Now, German researchers are developing a new type of dressing that may better promote healing. Currently, many dressings are made of animal-based proteins, but this treatment option does create a risk of your body’s immune system responding badly to outside substances.

To better protect patients, the wound dressing currently being developed works with our body’s elastin, which gives skin stretch and resilience. Currently being tested in pre-clinical trials, this new dressing could help customize wound treatment. Scientists expect to finish their research at the end of 2021, at which point they’ll apply for medical approval. In the meantime, check out other ways to treat your ulcers.

How to Treat Your Ulcer at the Source

Whether you need an accurate diagnosis for your lower leg ulcer, or need treatment, Texas Endovascular has the vein expertise necessary to help. Schedule an appointment with us today and we’ll get you on the path to recovery.

Sources: JAMA NetworkCirculation Foundation, Venous News 

If You’ve Got a Leg Ulcer, We’ve Got a Great (Remote) Treatment Plan for You!

Have you heard the news? In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, our Texas Endovascular Specialists are now happy to offer telemedicine appointments. What does this mean for you? When you call one of our Houston area offices for an appointment slot, you can specify your preference for a telemedicine appointment. But instead of coming in to see us, you’ll receive a time to see our vein specialists in our virtual office, hosted by the secure Doxy platform.  During your appointment, you’ll be able to show and discuss your problem. After that, you’ll receive a treatment protocol and any appropriate or necessary prescriptions!

Now, we can’t get rid of your varicose veins during a telemedicine appointment. But we can help you alleviate any associated pain or discomfort, while preventing your condition from progressing further and causing more serious complications. And that’s not all we can treat remotely. So, today, and for the few days, we’ll highlight conditions we can treat with telemedicine appointments. First up? Patient requiring follow-up care for venous leg ulcers.

 

Why Venous Leg Ulcers Respond Well to Remote

Telemedicine is a fairly new option here in the U.S. But remote visits are a well-established practice in Canada, which has allowed physicians there to study patient outcomes. And here’s some good news: many conditions, especially ulcers, do just as well with remote follow up care as they do with in person visits.

This is why we believe you can receive quality ulcer care from a distance: when you have an ulcer (an non-healing sore on your leg, typically the result of underlying vein problems) traveling may be difficult. But if you can receive remote follow-up care via telemedicine, travel is no longer an obstacle to your recovery. Which means you’ll stick to your scheduled visits and stay on track with our team of vein specialists. And, by sticking to a strict schedule of care, we can also prevent future complications by spotting problems when they first develop.

And there’s this: for some people, coming into a major metro area can be challenging. But with the rise of Telemedicine, we can now extend our high-quality vein care to patients living almost anywhere.  In our books, that’s a very important development. Especially since, given the current global health scare, many insurance companies will cover the cost of your telemedicine visit (check with your individual provider for details before booking your visit.) And now here’s what researchers discovered about ulcers and telemedicine

Scientific Findings on Remote Ulcer Care

In 2014, researchers in Norway compared two groups of patient outcomes for foot ulcers groups. Twenty patients received follow-up care via telemedicine; 120 came for in-person follow ups.

Now, get ready for the exciting findings: Patients in both groups showed similar healing times for their ulcers. And, in both groups, nearly identical numbers of patients were completely healed at the 12-week mark. In other words, if you need to receive remote follow up care for an ulcer, your quality of care won’t suffer in any way. So, go ahead and feel confident booking a telemedicine appointment for your ulcer care, or for other non-procedural vein health concerns.

 

Sources: BMC Health Service Research

 

 

How Can I Tell if My Wound Won’t Heal?

Have you recently noticed a cut or scrape on your leg that seems to have been there for a while? Are you starting to wonder if it will ever go away? You may have developed an ulcer—a wound that won’t heal without medical intervention. Here’s how to know if your cut or scrape is more than just a surface injury.

What Exactly is an Ulcer?

Everyone gets wounds at some point in their lives: they are just injuries that damage your skin, exposing the tissue that lies beneath. When your body is working properly, these wounds are no big deal. They usually heal on their own, although topical creams can speed up your recovery time.

Sometimes, however, that’s not the case. If your injury hasn’t mostly healed within a month, chances are you have a non-healing wound (ulcer.) This is especially likely if you have a condition, like varicose veins or diabetes, that has compromised your blood circulation.

If you do have an ulcer, it’s a big problem: in fact, if you don’t seek treatment for ulcers, you could end up with serious medical complications. You could even lose your affected limb.

So, aside from timing, how can you know if you have a non-healing wound? Chances are, you’ll notice other symptoms at the site of your wound, including:

·         Redness

·         Swelling

·         Numbness

·         Pain

·         Discharge

·         Odor

You may also develop a fever with your infection.

How Can I Treat My Ulcer?

If you suspect you’ve got a non-healing wound, don’t panic: your vein specialists can help. We can make sure that your wound is being cared for, with debridement (removing dead or infected tissue), proper dressings to keep the area clean and protected, pressure, and applicable medications. We will also work to address any underlying vascular issues that may have contributed to the problem.

The key to recovering from ulcers is to seek medical help as soon as you identify a problem. So, if you have compromised circulation, pay special attention to any cuts or nicks on your body. And if you notice any ulcer symptoms, go see your vein specialist right away.

Check out the New Gel that Could Solve Leg Ulcer Problems

If you have untreated vascular disease, you could develop leg ulcers. These open sores often develop just above your ankle, on the inside of your leg. But, what causes them to develop? When your veins aren’t functioning well—as is the case if you’ve got varicose veins —the pressure inside those veins can build up rapidly. And, if that pressure isn’t relieved, it can damage your skin, leaving you with open sores. Plus, once those sores develop, they are slower to heal.  Why? The answer lies in your circulation problems. Without getting enough oxygen-rich blood, the skin on your legs can’t regenerate as well as it should. And this can make it harder for wounds to heal. Which is why, as Houston vein specialists, we’re very excited about a newly developed wound treatment. Want to hear the coolest part? It’s developed from blood!

Using Blood to Speed Up Wound Healing Fish Oil

According to a study in Advances in Skin and Wound Care, researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a gel, made from blood, that’s speeding up healing times for ulcers. Typically, these ulcers take at least three months to heal but, studies show that for at least 14% of patients, wounds are still a problem one whole year later. And, for others, the wounds just don’t heal, making it necessary to amputate.

For all these reasons, a new, faster wound treatment is a very big deal. So, how does the new gel work? Doctors take a little more than a teaspoon of your own blood and spin it around in a piece of equipment called a centrifuge.

While your blood spins, your plasma gets separated from the other parts of your blood. Plasma is rich in platelets, and platelet are full of ‘growth factors’ that boost your body’s healing. Once your plasma has been isolated, it gets mixed with a few other compounds, and, in about 30 seconds, it takes on a gel form. Your doctor puts that gel on your wound right away, and then covers the area with a bandage to help your wound heal faster.

But, you may be wondering, just how effective is the gel? Forty-eight percent of patients treated with gel had full wound healing, compared to 30% of patients treated with other methods. And, even more exciting news: the healing time was cut in half! Wounds had shrunk by 50% in 21 days for patients using the gel. Patients not using the gel had to wait 42 days to get that same result.

While the gel is still being studied, the results are certainly exciting. We can’t wait to learn more about this therapy, which harnesses your own body’s potential to self-heal!

Move it Monday: Improve Your Healing

When you have vein disease, you may experience a wide range of symptoms, from tired heavy legs to changes in the appearance of your skin. One potential skin change you may experience is the development of a venous skin ulcer (a sore on your leg that’s hard to heal, usually because your circulation isn’t working well.) While ulcers can be difficult to treat, a new study is now suggesting that exercise, in combination with compression therapy, can help ulcers heal faster!

Compression socks will help your ulcer heal, but adding in exercise can speed up the process

According to research published in JAMA Dermatology, ulcer patients who tried compression therapy and exercise healed quicker than those who only used compression therapy. Compression therapy, usually in the form of socks or stockings, helps heal leg ulcers by directing more blood flow to your legs. In this new study, researchers reviewed clinical information for 190 patients, and found that healing rates improved by 14% when patients were prescribed compression therapy and exercise, as compared to compression therapy alone. For the purposes of this review, the exercise included walking and ankle exercises, both of which improve blood flow and strengthen calf muscles. Strong calf muscles can help manage the symptoms of vein disease because, when they contract properly, those muscles can help give blood the push it needs to make its way back to your heart.

As Houston vein specialists, we are dedicated to improving vein health and helping people heal from vein disease. With that goal in mind, we dedicate frequent Monday blog posts to exercises that may help improve your vein health. Given the  findings in this study, today’s post will highlight ankle exercises you can do from anywhere, and without any equipment. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise plan!

Five Ankle Strengthening Exercises for Improved Circulation

  • Standing on one foot: Begin by just standing on one leg at a time, and holding the position for as long as you can. Once that becomes fairly easy to pull off, try doing the same thing, but with your eyes closed.
  • Standing calf raises: Lift yourself up on your toes for 15 reps, taking a brief pause between sets. If you are ready for more of a challenge, do the exercise on one leg at a time, or hold a light set of weights while you do the raises
  • Heel walks: Lift your toes and forefoot off the ground. Walk back and forth across the room, balancing on your heels.
  • Hop Around: Stand on your right leg. Hop forward, sideways and backward up to 30 repetitions, if you are ready for that kind of challenge. Then switch legs and repeat the moves on your left foot.
  • Skater jumps: Start in a standing position on your left leg. Propel yourself to the right using the muscles in your left glute, and land on your right leg with a bent knee. Jump back to the left side, using the muscles in your right glute to move you over.

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