Learning the signs of chronic wound development can help patients seek help sooner.

One of the keys to successful treatment of chronic wounds is early detection. Recognizing the seriousness of a wound early can be an important step in addressing the patient’s needs and providing the right kind of wound care. But clinicians can’t provide timely treatment unless the patient recognizes they need help. Which makes learning how to recognize the stages of chronic wound development a vital tool in the patient’s battle to recover.

Million of patients

According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 6.5 million people in the U.S. are affected by chronic wounds. Meanwhile, Wound Care Awareness states that these include:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers (2,098,750 patients per year).
  • Pressure ulcers (2,906,336).
  • Venous leg ulcers (817,244).
  • Surgical wounds (519,923).
  • Arterial ulcers (388,730).

Many of those with chronic wounds fail to seek treatment because they believe the wound will heal itself over time. But this delay in receiving care can worsen the situation and lead to complications.

A wound that fails to heal can lead to a number of serious complications including infections and other illnesses. Infected wounds may bleed spontaneously, exude fluids or appear to grow larger in area. If left untreated, infected wounds can develop other issues including sepsis (harmful bacteria in tissue) and necrosis (irreversible injury to cells). These conditions require hospitalization.

Meanwhile, those who suffer from diabetes and fail to recognize the severity of a wound are at risk for infection that can lead to illness and the even need for amputation. In fact, Science Direct cites research that determined 85 percent of diabetics’ lower limb amputations follow development of a foot ulcer.

Recognizing signs

Those with chronic wounds should learn to recognize when a wound has become serious and requires professional treatment.

The size of the wound should not deter a patient from treatment. Even a small diabetic foot wound can quickly develop into a serious condition if not treated in a timely manner

In a commentary piece for the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Michael Hurwitz stated that if the wound does not positively respond to traditional methods of care – direct pressure, sterile dressings changed regularly and elevation – after 30 days, the assistance of a wound care clinician is needed.

Patients that experience wound swelling, discharge, odor, warmth and pain should seek treatment as well. Teaching patients how to recognize the conditions of a serious wound can help assure they get the treatment they need in a timely manner.

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.