About 2% of the entire US population is affected by chronic wounds and reportedly spends millions of dollars annually seeking help. A chronic wound is usually described as a sore that fails to heal in a predicted time as it usually should and persists after about three months. Some examples are bedsores and diabetic wounds. Why do some injuries fail to heal and take longer than expected? Hopefully, this article will address that and highlight some treatment options used.
Chronic wounds tend to stay longer in the inflammation stage and fail to kick-start the injured site’s healing. This situation happens because the body loses its inherent ability to produce enzymes that play a vital role in recovery. A debridement is a treatment option that involves removing inflamed or dead skin tissue from the wound to speed up healing. Usually, dead skin tissue or necrotic tissue becomes an impediment to the healing process. Therefore, allowing it to remain only causes the wound to fester at a faster rate.
The medical instruments used for this treatment include a scalpel, tweezers, or a curette. After using these tools, the medical attendant will usually smear an enzyme-based gel to sterilize the wound. The objective of debridement is to create an opportunity for new and active skin tissue to begin the healing process independently. In other circumstances, instead of an enzyme-based gel, a high-pressure water jet is sprayed onto the wound’s surface to help clear dead skin cells. Although debridement is a painful procedure, a local anesthetic that’s applied before the process begins can reduce the sensation.
2. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves placing the injured person into a special oxygen-infused chamber. This compartment is usually under high pressure and is meant to increase oxygen levels in the person’s blood to speed up the wound’s healing. With increased oxygen concentration, the body increases blood supply to the wound site. Blood then carries vital plasma, white blood cells, and other vital enzymes that improve chronic wound conditions. Especially in persons with diabetic foot syndrome, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is common and most preferred because of the high success rates.
3. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy
This therapy is also known as vacuum-assisted closure or VAC therapy. In this treatment option, the chronic wound is covered but requires airtight material connected to a thin tube and pump. The pump sucks fluids away from the wound through the narrow tube to increase blood flow to the wound area and facilitate healing.
Negative pressure therapy involves pumping fluid away from the wound at regular intervals. Some of these pumps have timers, while others don’t. The only disadvantage with this is its restricted mobility. Furthermore, it makes noise while functioning. However, that’s a little price to pay when the purpose is to treat a chronic wound.
Other treatment options include compression bandages, skin grafts (for large wounds), ultrasound and electromagnetic therapy, etc. The type of treatment option usually depends on the wound’s condition and what the attending physician thinks. Chronic wounds decrease quality of life, and their persistence can lead to psychological stress. However, these treatment options and therapies have high success rates and help to reduce emotional aggravation.