Healing is a part of life, but sometimes our bodies don’t heal our wounds properly. An estimated 6.5 million people in the United States have chronic or hard-to-heal wounds, often due to diabetes, poor circulation, trauma or other pre-existing medical conditions.
“Sixty percent of the wounds we see are chronic or non-healing for vascular reasons,” says Jihad Abbas, MD, vascular surgeon with Jobst Vascular Institute at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. “Blood flow is the main reason wounds don’t heal because poor blood flow or blood that is flowing back to the heart is disrupted and creates high pressure in lower extremities, and that prevents it from healing properly. So, this is why wound care is kind of intricate to vascular.”
Dr. Abbas says patients find their way to him when they discover that a wound hasn’t healed in the amount of time it should have. Each patient is different with their own set of challenges, but he admits that those with diabetes often have challenges when it comes to wounds.
“They don’t realize they have a problem that can cause them to have a wound that won’t heal or will get infected,” explains Dr. Abbas.
Uncontrolled blood sugar can harm the nerves in the body, causing a loss of feeling that is vital in detecting cuts, scrapes and other injuries.
Uncontrolled blood sugar (blood glucose levels) can harm the nerves in the body, causing a loss of feeling that is vital in detecting cuts, scrapes and other injuries. “I always tell patients with diabetes to take care of their feet, observe their feet, inspect them every day. Don’t walk barefoot, because you can step on a pin or dirt and never feel it. We always tell people not to smoke. Patients with peripheral artery disease, we tell them to watch for any injuries to their lower extremities, too.”
The outlook often depends on the severity of the problem, but can be good if patients follow their doctor’s instructions. Patients should contact their doctor immediately if they notice green or yellow drainage, odor, swelling, redness or warmth around the wound or a wound that hasn’t healed after 4-6 weeks.