Patient Guide to Treating Non-Healing Wounds
For many individuals with non-healing wounds, it may seem like the best option is to wait for the wound to heal. However, waiting can sometimes cause the wound to become deeper, larger and infected. Waiting to treat a non-healing wound can lead to significant complications and need for drastic intervention, such as hospitalization, surgery, and in some cases, amputation.
This guide will give you the information you need to understand your options, select the appropriate treatment, and feel more confident and comfortable as you move forward with your care.
Treatment for Non-Healing Wounds in Maryland
According to statistics in the US, chronic non-healing wounds are a serious issue, affecting over 6.5 million individuals. Amongst these people, 1% to 2% will experience a lifetime non-healing wound. The unfortunate thing about these wounds is that they are difficult to treat and more often need specialized care.
Without thorough investigations incorporating advanced treatment methods and vascular testing, these wounds can result in long-term and serious health complications. Some of these complications include;
- Acute infections
- Extreme pain
- Life-long scarring and discoloration
- Additional damage to organs and systems
- Amputations, etc.
If you are in Maryland, and are curious to understand the options available for treating non-healing wounds, consider visiting the vascular specialists at Center for Vascular Medicine for testing and evaluation. Each patient is unique, and because of this, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment method. But before we discuss treatment options, let's understand what a non-healing wound is.
What Is A Non-Healing Wound?
A non-healing wound, also known as a chronic wound, begins as a skin ulceration and can eventually affect various body parts, including skin, bones, tendons, muscles, and joints. A chronic wound is one that does not show any signs of healing within four weeks of onset and persists beyond eight weeks.
Some of the most common chronic wounds are:
- Diabetic foot ulcers
- Pressure ulcers
- Non-healing surgical wounds
- Venous Ulcers
- Arterial Ulcers
- Wounds from autoimmune diseases, etc.
As mentioned earlier, these wounds take time to heal. Patients with chronic wounds often notice certain symptoms in the early development stage, including chronic pain, oozing, feeling a warm sensation around the wound, discoloration on the edges of the wound, itchiness, an odor, or any combination of the above.
Awareness about the options available for treatment for your particular type of wound will be crucial. Identifying the cause of your wound is a significant first step. This is because different types of non-healing wounds require specific treatments.
If you, or someone you love, has been suffering with non-healing wounds for years, it is essential you seek the advice of your PCP or vascular specialist. Oftentimes, an attempt to self-diagnose a wound can lead to negative outcomes. The causes of non-healing wounds are very diverse and require the help of a medical practitioner to identify the exact cause and provide a comprehensive treatment plan for your specific wound.
How Is A Non-Healing Wound Treated?
Treatment and care of a chronic wound depend on the cause. Some of these factors include the type, location, size, and stage of your wound. It is important to understand that chronic wounds have unique characteristics and symptoms requiring specific treatment methods. Because of this, it is essential to seek the help of a medical professional who understands the various treatment methods available for your particular non-healing wound.
Sometimes, your physician may need to incorporate multiple treatment methods to heal your wound. Additionally, when a specific treatment method is deemed ineffective, a specialist will be able to offer the next phase of your treatment plan.
Generally, treatment and care of chronic wounds will incorporate one of these treatment methods:
Moisture is one of the most vital factors in wound healing. Hydration helps increase blood circulation and the formation of new skin cells.
When you have a chronic wound, it is essential to keep it clean and moist. In this situation, dressings are known to be the most important element in treating your wound, and are known as “wet to dry” dressings. By keeping your wound covered with a clean and moist dressing, typically applied using sterile gauze and saline, you will be able to keep the wound protected and allow your skin to heal. As the dressing dries, the unhealthy tissue is removed and the wound is given the best chance of healing by promoting healthy blood flow to facilitate new skin growth. This approach should be closely monitored by a physician, as some individuals will need to be placed on prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection.
If you are suffering from a chronic cavity wound, the best option would be to fill it. Packing a chronic wound helps remove debris and fill the dead space to support healing from the wound's base to the surface. Providing the appropriate pressure to the wound stimulates circulation to the area and facilitates the body's ability to grow healthy tissue.
Several wound packing options, such as calcium alginate dressings, saline and betadine dressings, and Hydrofiber dressing, can help you heal your wound and treat it properly. What your specialist chooses will depend on the severity and location of the wound; as well as the root cause of your non-healing wound.
Sometimes, a doctor may recommend using a stimulating agent, such as vac therapy, to help your wound heal. These agents encourage the regrowth of normal tissues and healing, while simultaneously packing the wound. These therapies can dramatically decrease the healing time of a wound for the right candidate. Your specialist can discuss it in more detail.
Enzymatic treatment incorporates the use of naturally occurring proteinases or proteolytic enzymes, which assist in the breakdown of the dead tissue, which helps the wound heal. These agents are often used in conjunction with other treatment options.
In case of a chronic wound that has bled for several days, hemostatic agents may be used to stop the bleeding. These medications help stop the bleeding by promoting blood clotting and will only be used when necessary.
Using antimicrobial agents such as silver nitrate, honey, or other natural substances are sometimes used for preventing infection in your wound. It is important to remember that these treatments will not cure an infected wound but only prevent new infections. Be sure to consult with your medical provider before applying anything to your on-healing wound. It is imperative to treat not only the existing wound, but also the root cause behind the wound to prevent new wounds from forming.
Doctors to Visit for a Non-Healing Wound
You can treat a non-healing wound in various doctor's offices. The first place to visit would be a primary care physician or a specialist doctor. Primary care physicians handle general medical issues such as illnesses, injuries, etc.
However, when you visit a wound specialist or vascular specialist, you can discuss your wound, its root causes and its treatment in greater detail. Your specialist will know how to treat your particular wound based on its cause and characteristics.
Non-healing wounds are a common problem requiring a medical practitioner's attention. They are characterized by slow healing and may need to be treated with a combination of treatment options.
Although plenty of different treatment methods are available for chronic wounds, it is essential to know that each one will require a particular protocol and specific treatment. Always consult your doctor before attempting to treat any chronic wound yourself.
If you are in Maryland, Virginia or New Jersey and are looking for the best medical treatment for a chronic wound, call the specialists at the Center for Vascular Medicine. We offer the highest level of care and can help you pick the best treatment option for your wound. By identifying the root causes of your non-healing wound, which are often vascular in origin, you can drastically improve your body’s ability to heal quickly.
The vascular specialist at the Center for Vascular Medicine, in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey, treat thousands of patients every year and have published in numerous medical journals. Many of the patients treated at the Center for Vascular Medicine have chronic, non-healing wounds that have dramatically improved following the treatments available at CVM. Call today to schedule your consultation with one of the vascular specialists at the Center for Vascular Medicine.