Foot ulcers are open wounds that develop on the toes, heel, ball of the foot and the lower leg. They appear as circular or oval like divots or rashes in the skin and can vary in color, size and severity of pain.

Many ulcers on the ball and toes of the foot are associated with diabetes; they can be painless and often go untreated. As the wounds get worse they get infected which, after time, can become gangrene and result in amputation.

Causes

There are many different factors that can contribute to ulcers including smoking, genetics, weight, and medications. When talking about the feet and legs, causes closely related to the symptoms of diabetes, poor blood circulation, and obstructions in the veins or arteries.

Poor blood circulation:

A side effect of poor blood circulation or obstructions in veins or arteries is an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to lower extremities. Because of this deficiency, developing sores cannot heal properly.

Many sores can develop from a foot rubbing on a shoe or toes rubbing together. As time passes the sore will get worse and develop into an ulcer.

Diabetes:

Patients with diabetes often experience neuropathy. As a result, it is very common for these patients to change their walking posture. When this happens, pressure is put onto areas of the feet in excessive amounts which will cause stress on the foot. Since the patient cannot feel the developing sore, the sore will continue to grow and therefore cause more exposure to infection.

Symptoms

Pain

For diabetics, there can be very little pain associated with a foot ulcer. For others, pain can range from simple burning and tingling sensations to severe pain that can only be relieved by taking weight off of the affected limb.

Visual Signs

Ulcers can have many different appearances based on the cause. Typically ulcers caused by excessive pressure will look like fresh meat. While ulcers caused by circulatory problems may look like liquid filled sacs beneath the skin.

Treatment

Treating a foot ulcer can be a very difficult task because poor blood circulation is almost always a factor in ulcer development. With reduced wound healing time, antibiotics can be prescribed to help fight infection. In addition we will use effective bandaging techniques to maximize blood flow while keeping the wound protected from infection. It is also very important that a patient keeps weight off of the sore.

Custom orthotics can be prescribed to adjust the foot into a proper walking position. Proper alignment will allow the bodies weight to be distributed over the foot evenly. By doing this patients will avoid applying excessive pressure on one part of the foot.

Prevention

You can effectively prevent foot ulcers by not smoking and following healthy exercise and diet regimens. If you have diabetes, it is important to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and inspect your feet on a daily basis. In addition, exercise will improve blood flow and help your body heal quickly.