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Wound care: When should you seek treatment?

August 18, 2017

Do you have a wound that seems to be hanging around a little too long? 

If so, don’t ignore it. The general rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t improve after 30 days of care, such as direct pressure, elevation and sterile dressing, it’s time to seek expert care. Non-healing wounds can cause serious infections, illness and even loss of a limb if not treated in a timely manner.

That’s why Kettering Health Network takes wound care a step further and recommends that people seek treatment for one that isn’t healing, even before that 30-day mark.

“Catching wounds early greatly reduces your risk of complications,” said Bruce Warren, manager of the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Centers for Sycamore Medical Center and Greene Memorial Hospital. “The earlier we treat the wound, the quicker response we see in healing.”

Who is at risk?

Slow-to-heal wounds can result from diabetes, changes from radiation, burns, swelling, poor blood flow, pressure points, and congestive heart failure. Individuals with the following conditions are at an increased risk for developing non-healing wounds:

  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral arterial disease, which occurs when arteries are blocked and cannot supply enough blood to legs and feet
  • Venous insufficiency, which occurs when the veins taking blood away from the legs do not function properly and blood backs up, seeping into the skin tissues and causing chronic swelling of the legs and weakness of the skin. This accounts for 80 percent of lower extremity ulcerations.
  • Chronic swelling of the legs for other reasons such as congestive heart failure and lymphedema
  • Immobility leading to pressure sores
  • Non-healing wounds from radiation
  • Complicated/non-healing surgical or trauma wounds

“It is estimated that 80 percent of diabetes-related amputations are preceded by a foot ulcer,” said Warren. “Diabetic foot ulcers develop due to uncontrolled blood sugars, nerve damage (neuropathy) causing loss of sensation in the foot, atherosclerosis (poor blood flow), and foot trauma.”

At Kettering Health Network, we develop a care plan that includes assessment of the patient’s diabetic status, vascular (arterial and venous blood flow), and foot wear. We also coordinate care with specialists in vascular, podiatry, orthopedics, infectious disease, and plastic surgery.

“Preventative foot care and evaluations by a professional are vital in preventing diabetic related foot ulcers,” said Warren.

Wounds treated

Kettering Health Network has five wound center locations throughout the greater Dayton area, including the Beavercreek Health Park, Grandview Medical Center and Greene Memorial Hospital. Fort Hamilton Hospital houses a wound center, as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Sycamore Medical Center has the largest comprehensive wound and hyperbaric center in southwest Ohio.

Treatment options

Kettering Health Network’s wound healing programs use the latest clinical tools available, as well as tried-and-true treatments including:

  • Compression therapy (reduce swelling)
  • Debridement (removing compromised tissue)
  • Off-loading (total contact cast)
  • Circulation testing (adequate blood flow)
  • Comprehensive evaluation of ulcers and wounds
  • Products for healing at home
  • Wound vac therapy
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) is a medical treatment where the patient breathes 100 percent oxygen under increased barometric pressure and gains10-to-15 times more oxygen in their blood. Hyperoxygenation stimulates the production of new blood vessels at the cellular level, promotes tissue growth, reduces swelling, and enhances the killing power of your leukocytes against infections.

Conditions treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Decompression illness
  • Air or gas embolism
  • Compromised skin grafts and flaps
  • Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Delayed radiation injury
  • Acute peripheral arterial insufficiency
  • Compromised grafts and flaps
  • Gas gangrene
  • Necrotizing infections
  • Crush injuries

“Wound care is our specialty – it’s all we do,” said Warren. “All of the treatments we provide at our centers are designed to decrease healing time and get the patient back on their feet sooner.”

Click here for more information on Kettering Health Network Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Centers.