An open leg, also known as leg ulcer, is recognizable by a wound on the leg that does not want to heal. This often concerns the lower leg. The problem is very often found in the veins, which means that the tissue does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients. Varicose veins often play a role in this. How is open leg treated?
What is an open leg?
Many people think of an open leg as a leg that is completely open, but that is not what this means. An open leg is a wound that will not heal due to poor blood circulation. An open leg is common in people with thrombosis or varicose veins, but can also be caused by other failures.
The origin and cause
Due to the failure of blood flow, lower tissue receives less oxygen-rich blood. The legs are sensitive to this because a lot of force is needed to pump blood up. When something goes wrong somewhere, a lot of oxygen-poor blood remains in the leg and little oxygen-rich blood is added. The result is that tissue dies and wounds appear on the legs. These wounds cannot heal. After all, oxygen-rich blood is needed for healing.
The cause can often be found in problems with the veins, such as varicose veins or thrombosis. As a result, the valves in the veins do not work sufficiently and oxygen-poor blood flows back into the veins. An artery can also become narrowed or even completely blocked. This is called an embolism. Smoking is a risk factor for narrowing of arteries. People who stand or sit a lot for their profession or have this as a lifestyle also have an increased risk of open leg. Little exercise is a risk factor. By walking we use the calf muscles, which ensure that the blood in the leg is pumped back up. Overweight people are more likely to have an open leg. The greater the excess weight, the greater the risk.
Symptoms and complaints
There has often been poor blood flow in the leg for a long time, but an open leg can only develop after years. The symptoms are mainly seen in the lower leg or ankle. Sometimes a brown discoloration and severe flaking of the skin occurs. The skin may also turn white in certain places. Varicose veins are often present. These are visible blue to purple twisting and thickened veins. There is a tired and heavy feeling in the legs or restless legs. Not everyone suffers from this equally. Sometimes edema also occurs: fluid accumulation in the legs.
With an open leg we clearly see wounds or wounds that arise suddenly or as a result of an injury. These wounds do not want to heal. Often the area around the wound is yellow in color and a short crust appears on the wound. Normal skin disappears at the site of the wound. Sometimes the bottom of the wound is black. This means that the tissue has died there. The wounds can smell and are sometimes painful.
Treatment and recovery
The treatment first consists of caring for the wound. Dead tissue is removed and the wound is covered. If necessary, a wound fluid-absorbing dressing may be used when the wound is wet. Sometimes the wound is so difficult to heal that a skin graft is used. The wound is removed and the leg is provided with new, undamaged tissue. In most cases this grows well.
The leg is bandaged or a support stocking is used that is worn tightly around the leg. This reduces the pressure on the vessel walls. Furthermore, a lot of exercise is recommended. The veins that have not yet been damaged can pump blood back to the heart with the help of exercise. Full recovery can take months to years. In the future it is important to prevent an open leg from developing again. Sports such as running, cycling and swimming are highly recommended. Resting with the leg raised is not recommended. It is better to pump the blood back to the heart through exercise. Without movement this is hardly possible. Damaged veins can sometimes be repaired or replaced with a healthy vein elsewhere in the body through surgery. This is not always applied and is not always possible.