Orange County, CA Arterial Ulcer Treatment

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1533 E 4th St,

Santa Ana, CA 92701

Table of Contents

What Are Arterial Ulcers?

Arterial ulcers are breaks in the skin of the leg or foot, perhaps from a wound, puncture, or dryness, that cannot heal because of poor blood flow to the area. Because the wound cannot heal properly, the wound grows larger, allowing oxygen and bacteria to access the subcutaneous tissue. This leads to further damage and infection. Without proper blood flow to the lower extremities, even minor scrapes or cuts can develop into ulcers.

Common Symptoms of Arterial Ulcers

Woman suffering from a Arterial Ulcer

The lower legs and feet of patients with arterial ulcers have a swollen look, with discoloration, indicating poor circulation (ischemia) and atrophy, with hair loss and toenail discoloration. Often these limbs are cold to the touch, and lack a discernible pulse. The site of the ulcer itself is typically swollen, with no bleeding, even though the wounds are often deep, even to the muscle or bone. Arterial ulcers can be yellow, brown, or even grey or black.

What Causes Arterial Ulcers?

Arterial ulcers are caused by poor circulation. In a healthy leg, even a significant wound will heal over time with proper dressing and attention, as the body can send healthy, oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the area. If the arteries or capillaries are compromised, the tissue they service will stagnate, making it vulnerable to any kind of damage. In the case of a wound – even a small puncture – the damage will grow and spread without healing.

Many things can cause poor circulation. Here are a few conditions that can result in an arterial ulcer:

Peripheral Vascular Disease

This condition occurs when arteries to the extremities narrow or become blocked due to fatty deposits or calcium building up inside. This narrowing can result in poor blood flow to the areas beyond it, eventually allowing an ulcer to occur.

Chronic Vascular Insufficiency

Also known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency, this condition occurs when the valves present in a person’s veins begin to fail due to poor exercise, smoking, a blood clot, or other conditions. This makes it harder for the blood to return to the heart, causing pressure to build up in the lower extremities. This results in damage to the capillaries and the tissues they serve. Over time, enough damage accrues that an ulcer can form.


Vasculitis is inflammatory damage of blood vessels, usually caused by an immune response to infection, medication, or some other disease or condition. Inflammation can result in the walls of the vessel to swell, restricting circulation.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a condition in which the body fails to make enough insulin to break down sugar in the blood. High blood sugar then can damage blood vessels, leading to poor circulation. This can also cause diabetic ulcers.

Renal failure

When the kidneys are not working properly, this condition can result in high blood pressure, and edema (a swelling of hands and feet). Either condition can cause damage to tissue in the extremities, enabling an ulcer to form.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can damage blood vessels, leading to poor circulation, which can cause an ulcer.


A hardening of the arteries. Poor flexibility in blood vessels leads to poor circulation, as the arteries cannot work properly. This causes the extremities to be underserved by blood flow, eventually resulting in an ulcer.


A thickening of the arteries, due to the buildup of fatty materials. (See Peripheral Vascular Disease, above.)


When damage from an injury does not heal properly, it can result in poor circulation to certain areas of the body, which can cause an ulcer.

Limited joint mobility

When arthritis or other conditions prohibit normal movement in joints (the knees in particular), it can result in poor muscle use and atrophy, which can lead to poor circulation. This can contribute to tissue damage and arterial ulcers.

Increased age

Over time, metabolism can slow down, resulting in less use of joints and muscles. This can contribute to poor blood flow to the legs, which in turn can contribute to ulcers.

Treatment Options For Arterial Ulcers

There are a number of treatment modalities for addressing an arterial ulcer. Most concern enabling the body’s own natural healing process to fix the problem. Usually, a qualified wound treatment healthcare provider will suggest a combination of some of these approaches. With consistency and a little determination, patients often stand an excellent chance of making a complete recovery from this condition.

Basic Wound Care Habits

Patients with an arterial ulcer should avoid doing anything that restricts blood flow to the afflicted area. As simple as it may sound, avoiding sitting with legs crossed can make a big difference. Patients should also keep the afflicted area warm, and avoid footwear that is too tight, for it may restrict blood flow to the area. Patients must also inspect the wound regularly for progress or setbacks, and redress it as necessary to avoid infection.

Activity and Rest

Patients should also avoid sitting for too long and get as much exercise as they can comfortably handle, as activity enables the body to commit resources to repairing damaged leg tissue. However, standing for too long can also cause problems, as pressure can build up in the legs, causing further damage. Use wisdom in striking this balance, as both rest and activity are necessary for healing.

Stop Smoking

Patients should also quit smoking. Smoking contributes to the hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), and thus poor circulation. This exacerbates tissue damage, making it more difficult for the area to heal.


There are different surgical approaches to addressing an ulcer. If the artery that serves the afflicted area becomes blocked, there are different techniques for bypassing it so that healthy blood flow can resume. An angioplasty can also be used to clear the blockage. In extreme cases, if the lower leg or foot has sustained too much damage or necrosis, then amputation may be necessary.

Choose Wound Care OC For Arterial Ulcer Treatment

In Orange County, Wound Care OC is the preeminent source for the very best professionals and resources for treating arterial ulcers and others including diabetic ulcers. Regardless of how your ulcer has formed or how advanced it is, we can get you moving toward the best possible outcome. We have helped many patients to a complete recovery from this difficult health challenge, and have the confidence to guide you as well. Call our office today, and we can schedule you for an initial evaluation. You will be glad you did.

Wound care specialist Dr. Faried Banimahd

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