Chronic wounds that need constant care are a concern for patients with diabetes, poor circulation and other serious conditions.
Chronic wounds are painful, prone to infection and can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life. Proper wound care can prevent the spread of infection and enable the healing process so patients can enjoy improved mobility and avoid amputation.
Types of Chronic Wounds
There are several different underlying conditions that can cause persistent, non-healing wounds. Some of the most common types of chronic wounds include:
- Diabetic ulcers – In individuals with diabetes, ulcers may appear on lower extremities and are often associated with a loss of sensation. These wounds can be severe and can sometimes lead to amputation.
- Pressure ulcers – A pressure ulcer can form when constant external pressure over a bony area cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to skin or muscle.
- Radiation-related wounds – Radiation therapy can cause tissue changes, and chronic wounds can sometimes develop at the site of treatment. Minor trauma to irradiated tissue can also cause a slow-healing wound to develop.
- Vascular wounds – Vascular ulcers can form below the knee in a leg that’s experiencing decreased blood flow due to blood clots or varicose veins.
Wound Care Options
There are many wound treatment options, and a multidisciplinary approach is often taken.
Some of the more common options include:
- Dressing and debridement (the removal of dead tissue)
- Antibiotics to kill bacteria
- Skin grafting, an option for diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers
- Compression therapy using medical socks to increase circulation
- The use of durable medical equipment for pressure relief
- Medications to stimulate healing
- Negative pressure therapy to increase the flow of blood to the wound and encourage healing
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase oxygen levels in the patient’s blood
- Vascular or endovascular surgery to improve blood flow to the affected area
- Reconstructive surgery
- Pain medication to improve the patient’s quality of life
How Effective is Wound Care?
The effectiveness of the treatments listed above depends on a variety of factors, including the underlying causes of the chronic wound and the patient’s overall health.