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Venous Leg Ulcers: Improving Circulation and Wound Healing

Venous Leg Ulcers: Improving Circulation and Wound Healing

Venous leg ulcers are open, painful sores that develop due to poor circulation in the veins of the lower legs. They typically form around the ankles or lower calves. Promoting circulation and proper wound care helps venous leg ulcers heal.

Causes of Venous Ulcers

Venous ulcers are caused by venous insufficiency, or failure of the vein valves in the legs. This prevents proper return of blood flow to the heart, resulting in blood pooling in the veins. This stagnant blood leaks into surrounding tissue, depriving skin of oxygen and nutrients. Ulcers eventually form.

Risk Factors 

Factors that increase risk of venous leg ulcers include:

  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Leg trauma or injury
  • History of blood clots
  • Family history of venous disease


Signs and symptoms of venous ulcers include:

  • Open, irregular wound below the knee
  • Swollen, heavy, painful legs
  • Itchy, discolored skin near the ankle
  • Varicose veins may be present


  • Over 2 million adults suffer from venous leg ulcers in the US
  • recurrence rates for venous ulcers can be up to 70%
  • venous ulcers account for over 90% of lower leg ulcer cases
  • treatment costs for venous ulcers exceed $3 billion per year in the US

Treating Venous Leg Ulcers 

Treatment focuses on improving venous circulation and may include:

  • Compression bandages or stockings to reduce swelling
  • Leg elevation above heart level when possible
  • Exercise to activate calf muscles
  • Weight loss if BMI is elevated
  • Advanced wound dressings and treatments
  • Compression pumps to enhance blood flow

Prevention Tips 

To help prevent venous ulcers:

  • Stretch and flex legs periodically when sitting
  • Avoid constrictive clothing below the knees
  • Take breaks from standing
  • walk, sit, elevate
  • Avoid extreme heat which dilates veins
  • Wear graduated compression stockings or socks to aid blood flow and venous return
  • Keep legs uncrossed when sitting

Consult your doctor at the first sign of venous changes or ulceration for proper diagnosis and treatment. Consistent compression therapy and wound care aids the healing process.

Disclaimer: This article is for general information only, not medical advice. Speak with your doctor regarding venous ulcers.


Venous leg ulcers: pathophysiology and evidence based treatment. Sontheimer, Richard D. The Mount Sinai journal of medicine, New York. 2019. Vol 86 (3), p. 151-165.

Diagnosis and management of venous ulcers: A review. Hassan, N., Amin, A. M., Ibrahim, A. H., & Abd El-Azeem Hassan, A. (2020). Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders, 8(4), 826-833.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency - StatPearls. Garg, N., Glaser, K., & Garg, A. (2022). StatPearls.

Stay tuned for more insightful content on the role of nutrition in health and healing from Condition Directed Supplements.

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