Introduction to Wound Healing
It is a normal part of life to develop a wound as a result of a minor accident or injury. Most people are able heal simple wounds without difficulty. However, due to existing medical conditions or wound complexity, a wound may have problems healing on its own. In this case, it may be necessary to see a medical specialist trained in the treatment of hard to heal wounds.
Why won't my wound heal?
There are many reasons as to why a wound won't heal. Diabetes, arterial disease ("hardening of the arteries"), and vein disease are just a few of the medical conditions that can interfere with normal wound healing. Your initial visit to our wound center consists of an overall assessment of your medical history, followed by a thorough examination of your wound and skin, by a team of wound care specialists. An appropriate individualized treatment plan will then be developed to treat the causes for delay. The treatment plan will include advanced wound care therapies and techniques designed to promote rapid healing in as little time as possible.
Some common causes for delay in healing include:
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Venous disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Cancer therapy
- Autoimmune conditions like lupus, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis
- Scar tissue
- Radiation injury
Do you only see people with wounds?
No. In fact, we see many patients with late onset radiation injury, and just like some complicated diabetic wounds, they are often treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Symptoms of radiation injury usually occur where there is injury to the specific area that was irradiated. For example, abdominal radiation can lead to chronic abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or blood in the urine or stool. Head and neck radiation can often lead to problems healing in the mouth after dental procedures. Sometimes, radiation injury can even lead to non healing wounds on the skin as well. Any unusual symptom that develops months to years after radiation therapy should be investigated for late onset radiation injury.
Risks of Not Treating a Wound
If a hard-to-heal wound is not treated, then chances are that over time, it will get bigger and deeper. This significantly increases the chances of infection, which if severe enough, may require hospitalization. If the tissue damage from infection is extensive, surgery or even amputation may be needed. To prevent this complication, your provider may use cutting edge technology like artificial skin therapy, hyperbaric oxygen and other advanced therapies to promote rapid wound healing. And when your wound is healed, your life can go back to normal.