An estimated 7 million Americans are living with a chronic or non-healing wound. The longer a chronic wound goes without proper treatment, the greater the risk of infection, hospitalization and amputation.
Your ability to heal can be affected by diabetes, heart disease, cancer or other immune-compromising health conditions, or advanced age. Learn more about the most common types of non-healing wounds:
Diabetic Foot Ulcer
A diabetic foot ulcer is a wound that occurs on the feet, heels or toes of people living with diabetes. Many times, there is little to no feeling in their feet or the wound itself due to diabetes-related nerve damage. If left untreated, the ulcer grows larger and deeper due to decreased circulation from blood vessel damage. This can lead to infection, hospitalization and amputation.
- Typically occurs on the feet, heel, or toes
- Often, there is little to the ulcer itself
- Skin on the legs and feet may be dry and flaky
Arterial or Ischemic Ulcer
Arterial or ischemic ulcers occur when the affected area does not receive blood supply. The medical term for poor blood flow is ischemia, therefore these wounds are also called ischemic ulcers. They are most often found on the toes, feet, heels or ankles.
- Leg pain may worsen when the leg is elevated
- Shiny or tight, hairless skin
- Skin that is cool or cold to the touch
- Minimum drainage from the wound
- A round wound with even edges or the look of being punched out
Venous or Stasis Ulcer
Venous ulcers occur when blood pools up in the veins due to valves that are not working properly to push the blood back up to the heart. The medical term for poor circulation is stasis, therefore these wounds are also called venous stasis ulcers. They are most often found just above the ankle.
- Leg pain or achiness
- Swelling in the leg, especially at the end of the day
- Discolored skin in the area above the ankle
- Moderate to heavy drainage from the wound
Patients most at risk for pressure ulcers include people with limited mobility due to illness, injury or paralysis. Other risk factors include people living with obesity, poor nutrition and urinary and/or bowel incontinence.
- Most commonly found over a bony prominence
- Ulcers begin as pressure injuries with non-blanchable redness
- If untreated, subcutaneous fat becomes visible
- Continued tissue loss leads to exposed muscle, tendon or bone
Traumatic Injury Ulcer
Severe trauma or injuries can lead to hard-to-heal wounds due to significant tissue loss as well as organ damage, leading to poor circulation. Car accidents are a leading cause of chronic wounds caused by traumatic injury. Surgical incisions can also lead to a hard-to-heal wound if post-operative wound care fails. Signs of distress may include:
- Redness around the injury or incision
- Pain of throbbing
- Discharge with an odor or pus
Some cancer survivors face another health challenge: a soft tissue injury or chronic wound caused by their cancer treatment. Radiation kills cancer cells but can also harm healthy tissues. This damage can worsen over time and symptoms may not occur for months or even years after treatment ends.
The Wound and Vascular Center offers you access to state-of-the-art outpatient clinical wound care. We specialize in advanced wound care, using a variety of clinical treatments, therapies and support services to treat chronic wounds. Our physician-driven, multidisciplinary approach to outpatient wound care has a superior success rate in facilitating the healing process. Learn more and schedule an appointment.