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Arterial leg ulcers can be painful. Pain often increases when your legs are at rest and elevated as blood supply to the tissues may be lower in this situation.You can reduce pain by sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor. Gravity will then cause more blood to flow into your legs.What causes arterial leg ulcers? Diabetes and ulcersThe long term effect of diabetes on the nerves causes a reduction in sensation in the feet.This increases the likelihood of accidental trauma to the feet, which makes ulcers more likely to appear.But these ulcers are often neglected because they don’t cause pain. The problem may be compounded in diabetes by diseased blood vessels and an increased susceptibility to infection.If ulcers aren’t treated, they can lead to more serious problems, such as gangrene and even amputation.Arteries are the tubes that carry oxygen rich blood from the heart to the body’s tissues. The tissues receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood.The used blood, which now contains carbon dioxide and other by products, is carried via the veins from the tissues back to the heart.Arterial leg ulcers are usually caused by poor blood circulation as a result of narrowed arteries due to atherosclerosis where a fatty deposit builds up inside the arteries. Occasionally other conditions which, for example, cause inflammation of the arteries, may be to blame for the reduced blood supply.As a result of the limited blood supply, the tissues are starved of the oxygen and nutrients they need and so break down, forming an ulcer. These are often low down on the leg, usually on the foot. If handled they don’t tend to bleed.Arterial ulcers may also be called ischaemic ulcers (ischaemia meaning low blood supply).People with diabetes have a much increased likelihood of developing atherosclerosis.ADVERTISEMENT CONTINUE READING BELOWBut diabetes can also directly damage the small blood vessels.This means people with diabetes have a much increased risk of developing arterial ulcers.The condition causes cramp like pains in the legs when walking.This is because the leg muscles don’t receive enough oxygenated blood to function properly.Claudication pain usually goes away if you stand still for a few minutes (as this allows the exercising muscle time to refresh its oxygen supply).But it is a sign or severe narrowing of the arteries due to atheroscleorsis, and it needs to be assessed by a doctor.