Ulcers in the feet are open sores or lesions that will not heal or that return over a long period of time.
These sores result from the breakdown of the skin and tissues of the feet and ankles.
Foot and ankle ulcers often fall into one of three major types, based on appearance, location, and effect on the skin:
Older men have the highest risk for developing foot ulcers.
Because of the correlation with poor circulation, others likely to get foot ulcers include those with:
Additional health conditions and factors that often increase the risk of foot ulcers include:
Left untreated, a foot ulcer can:
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Foot ulcers may present almost as a wound on the flesh of the foot.
Based on related conditions — like trouble with circulation and nerve damage — you may not feel certain symptoms.
General foot ulcer symptoms may cause:
People at a higher risk for foot ulcers, and those with recent foot injuries or trauma, should closely examine their feet on a regular basis.
Be sure to report any changes to your doctor right away so he or she can conduct an in-depth foot exam.
Based on your symptoms and the results of your exam, your doctor at UPMC Orthopaedic Care may order other tests such as:
The many treatment options for foot ulcers aim to:
Doctors at UPMC Orthopaedic Care might prescribe both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for foot ulcers.
Nonsurgical treatments for foot ulcers may include:
If nonsurgical treatment options don't work over time, your doctor may advise surgery.
Common surgical procedures for treating and correcting foot ulcers range from more routine wound care procedures like surgical debridement, to amputation if the ulcer becomes infected.
In addition to nonsurgical and surgical treatments, doctors may prescribe rounds of anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics to help the healing foot ulcers.
Following treatment for foot ulcers, a period of off-loading of the feet is often necessary. This can be as long as four months after a surgical procedure.
With prompt evaluation and treatment, doctors can appropriately manage foot ulcers and minimize the spread of infection.
To identify cases of foot ulcers as quickly as possible, monitor your feet regularly and go to the doctor for a total foot exam if you have any predisposing medical conditions.
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