Minor cuts, scrapes and wounds normally need very little help to heal. Clean it, bandage it and before you know it, your wound is better … usually. If your wound hasn’t healed in four weeks, it’s a chronic wound that needs medical attention.
How dangerous are chronic wounds? They can be both serious and painful. Left untreated, a chronic wound can become infected, lead to illness or even result in the loss of a limb. Approximately eight million people in the U.S. currently suffer from chronic wounds.
“Older adults are more likely to develop chronic wounds,” says Cheryl Sofonia, Director, Advanced Wound and Vein Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “By 2030, every Baby Boomer will be 65 or older, which means chronic wounds are likely to become even more prevalent in coming years.”
YRMC’s Advanced Wound Care team understands how to prevent, diagnose and treat chronic wounds. This expert team has developed the following facts to help you better understand chronic wounds.
Fact 1: There’s more than meets the eye when treating a chronic wound.
Most chronic wounds are related to an underlying medical condition. Some of the comorbidities that can inhibit normal wound healing include:
- Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma)
- Kidney failure
- Peripheral artery disease
- Venous insufficiency
“Knowing the underlying cause of a chronic wound is essential to successfully treating it,” Sofonia notes. “Our Advanced Wound Care team creates individual care plans that are based on the patient’s diagnosis and individual needs.”
Fact 2: It takes a team of medical experts to heal a chronic wound.
YRMC’s multidisciplinary Advanced Wound Care team collaborates to create and implement customized treatment plans. Depending on the type and severity of the wound, compression therapy, debridement, hyperbaric therapy, application of cellular and/or tissue based products and other advanced modalities may be incorporated into the patient’s plan. Our team works collaboratively with other specialties to coordinate needed care such as vascular or plastic surgery, dermatology and oncology.
Led by John Payne, MD, a surgeon who is specially trained in hyperbaric medicine and wound care, the exceptional Advanced Wound Care team includes physicians and providers specializing in:
- Interventional Vascular Medicine
- Infectious Disease Medicine
- General Surgery
- Hyperbaric Medicine
- Foot and Ankle Surgery/Podiatry
Advanced Wound Care also includes the following outstanding healthcare professionals:
- A Nurse Practitioner/Certified Wound Specialist
- Registered Nurses/Certified Wound and Ostomy Nurses
- An Occupational Therapist/Lymphedema Specialist
- Certified Hyperbaric Technicians
Fact 3: Chronic wound healing requires the right technology.
YRMC’s Advanced Wound Care team taps the latest technology to diagnose and treat patients’ chronic wounds. For example, our Hyperbaric Medicine program includes two state-of-the-art hyperbaric oxygen chambers. These chambers help heal chronic wounds by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood for faster and more efficient healing.
Fact 4: You can help prevent and heal chronic wounds.
Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking are all behaviors that help to prevent and heal a chronic wound.
“It’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” says Sofonia. “We see a difference in how quickly a wound heals when patients make these important lifestyle changes.”