How Improving Circulation Can Help Wounds Heal
A wound that doesn’t heal can be stressful – a perpetual source of pain and irritation. Beyond that, however, non-healing wounds can present serious health risks, especially for patients who don’t get the treatment and support they need, when they need it.
June is Wound Healing Awareness Month. At PVA, we think it’s an important opportunity to bring attention to chronic and non-healing wounds – and talk about the best options for treatment to avoid amputation and get back to the things in life that matter most.
A non-healing wound is one that doesn’t heal within five to eight weeks. If left untreated, non-healing wounds run the risk of becoming infected, leading to illness or even limb loss. In fact, more than 80 percent of amputations begin with foot ulcers that are due to poor circulation in the legs.
Non-healing wounds are particularly common in patients with poor circulation, like those with peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.). Blood flow, along with the oxygen and nutrients that come along with it, is necessary for wounds to heal, so poor circulation plays a central role in poor healing.
There are several causes and risk factors of poor circulation that can exacerbate effective healing:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Family history of vascular problems
Having one or more of these factors can increase your chances of developing a buildup of plaque, a sticky combination of fat and cholesterol that collects in the arteries and causes passageways to narrow. It’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms of non-healing wounds as well:
- Pain around a wound that doesn’t improve or even gets worse
- Wounds that are weeping, draining, or leaking
- Dark, blue coloring around the edges of a wound
- Foul odor
- Redness and/or swelling spreading away from a wound
The good news is that help is available. By treating underlying circulation issues, patients can significantly improve their body’s ability to heal and prevent non-healing wounds. A good first step, of course, is a doctor’s visit, where a simple and noninvasive test called a duplex ultrasound can determine if poor circulation is present.
If a vascular specialist determines that treatment is necessary, there are several courses of action available, based on the severity of the condition. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication, minimally invasive procedures like angioplasty or stenting – which can be done right in a PVA office – or open bypass surgery.
Ultimately, vascular surgeons are the only doctors who treat blood circulation problems that are equipped to perform all treatments available. At PVA, we are committed to putting our cutting-edge expertise to work in helping all of our patients restore circulation so they can not only avoid limb loss and other negative outcomes, but improve quality of life. Come visit us and learn how we can help.