Ulcers, in general, are unhealed sores or skin breaks. Foot ulcers can range from shallow red skin sores to those reaching up to deep bone tissue. Foot ulcers are characterized by their frequent returns, especially on the toes. They might catch infection when neglected, sometimes leading to amputation of the foot or a part of it.
Who Is Likely To Develop A Foot Ulcer?
Most people with ulcers have the following underlying medical conditions:
Nearly 15 percent of diabetic patients risk getting a foot ulcer. Cuts or sores can develop an infection, and surgical intervention might be needed in such cases.
Improper blood circulation in feet can deprive its blood vessels of oxygen. This can lead to reduced healing of foot cells and more vulnerability to injuries.
This condition is associated with damaged nerves in the feet or lower limbs. Damaged nerves tend to lose their sensation over time. The person remains unaware even after their foot gets injured. This might lead to ulcers, especially on the underside of the foot.
Bone Or Muscle Abnormalities:
Feet pushed into improperly shaped and sized shoes result in distorted muscles and nerves. It then becomes a potential site for ulcer formation. Also, other foot conditions, such as hammer toe and claw feet, might alter the foot anatomy. If not taken care of properly, ulcers can develop and worsen the situation.
Kidney & Heart Ailments:
Any issue with our vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys, affects the body’s overall blood circulation. These issues can develop due to aging, alcohol consumption or even other underlying conditions such as diabetes. All of these factors lead to the development of foot ulcers.
What Are The Possible Causes Of Foot Ulcers?
Apart from diabetes as the leading cause, there could be the following possible reasons:
- An unattended injury to the toes
- Poorly shaped and sized footwear
- Continuous friction of toes and foot with the shoes
- Unusual pressure on the toes while walking or running
- Nerve damage due to diabetes or any other injury
- Hindered blood circulation in the lower limbs, especially the feet
- Bacterial infections such as cellulitis
What Are The Types Of Foot Ulcers?
Depending upon the cause of ulcer formation, foot ulcer can be either of the following two types:
The blood is carried from our heart to the remaining body via arteries. Whenever blood circulation is restricted in any part of our body for any reason, the associated cells and tissues begin to die due to a lack of oxygen.
It leads to the formation of painful arterial ulcers, and these can develop anywhere on the body. The distinctive characteristic of such ulcers is that they don’t bleed, and the redness sometimes turns into pale color when the leg is elevated.
People suffering from high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are at higher risk.
These ulcers usually develop when there is nerve impairment in the toes or the foot. Since nerve impairment causes a reduced sensation, they do not cause much pain. However, they show redness and swelling and can get infected if overlooked. Usually, the sensitive pressure points of our feet, such as toes, heels, etc., develop such ulcers.
What Are The Symptoms Of Foot Ulcers?
The initial symptoms of foot ulcers could be redness and swelling in a particular area. Along with this, there can be:
- Cracked skin
- Dry skin with scales visible on it
- Rashes along with the redness of the skin
Depending upon the type of ulcer caused, if the nerve damage is not much, the ulcers can also exhibit pain. Over time, the ulcers might develop into deep wounds, reach the depths of bone tissues, and even expose the tendons. Such wounds can show:
- Discoloration of the skin
- Formation of a ring of hard skin (halo) around the wound
- Drainage observed, especially after the removal of footwear
- Foul odor
How to Diagnose Foot Ulcers?
Once you observe one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to seek medical help. The doctor might look for,
- Nature & appearance of the ulcer
- The texture of the nearby skin
- Location of the wound or ulcer
The doctor can either prescribe medications after this or can further refer you to a podiatrist in case it needs a more profound analysis.
What Are The Possible Foot Ulcer Treatments?
If you have been diagnosed with foot ulcers, there should not be any delay in getting them treated. Based on the condition of the ulcer and the amount of damage it has done to your foot, the doctor might recommend surgical or non-surgical methods of treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options:
- Over-the-table antibiotics to prevent further infection
- Keeping the wound covered and moist
- Draining the wound frequently to prevent other infection
- Keeping the feet at an elevated position to maintain healthy blood circulation
- Wearing insoles and customized orthotics as per the foot’s needs
- Bone Removal (Shaving)
- Tenotomy (removing the scar tissue)
- Reconstruction using skin grafting
- Tendon stretching
- Repairing the hammertoe
- Removing the infected tissue (Debridement)
How Can Foot Ulcers Be Prevented?
As it is rightly said that “Prevention is better than cure”; it is always better to take care of foot health beforehand. This can be ensured by:
- Opting for the right & comfortable footwear
- Regular skin & foot examination
- Keeping blood sugar levels in check
- Ensuring that feet stay clean and dry after long hours of wearing shoes
- Trimming the toenails timely to prevent any in-grown wounds
- Regular exercises and stretches to keep blood circulation healthy
- Seeking dietary assistance from nutritionists to maintain overall health and immunity
- Wearing orthotic insoles to keep correct foot alignment
With the advancement in technology, it is always possible to cope with foot ulcers. Once you have identified the type and nature of the ulcer, you can opt for treatment that suits the same. Most of the time, ensuring the comfort and health of your feet solves the issue. Getting your feet cushioned with proper insoles can give you the comfort you are looking for. Here comes the role of Comfort Shoe. We customize the best orthopedic insoles in St Louis by considering all your medical conditions.
We vow to ensure your comfort & foot health no matter what we confront!