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The Importance of a Multi-disciplinary Approach to Wound Healing

Every year chronic wounds caused by poor circulation and other medical problems—including diabetes—keep 5-6 million Americans from their jobs and their recreational pursuits. Due to the increasing burden of chronic wounds on society, wound care has developed into a medical specialty that saves lives, limbs, and healthcare dollars.

Wound care has evolved from gauze dressings to modern treatments like moist wound healing, collagen products, silver antimicrobials, growth factors, bioengineered tissue, negative pressure systems, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the lifetime risk of a foot ulcer in diabetes patients may be as high as 25%. Diabetic foot ulcers are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting for many nontraumatic amputations. Treating a diabetic foot ulcer involves addressing blood sugars, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney disease, offloading the affected limb, and blood flow. 

Risk factors to be aware of that can delay wound healing:

  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy (lack of sensation)
  • Shoes that do not fit well
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Smoking
  • Walking barefoot or in socks with neuropathy
  • History of a blood clot in the legs
  • Being overweight
  • Long periods of standing
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Trauma to the legs
  • Older age (thin, frail skin)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lower leg swelling
  • Infection

Some signs and symptoms of a wound that isn't healing:

  • Odor
  • Itching
  • Drainage
  • Redness
  • Swelling or pain lasting longer than 3 weeks
Learn more about wound care at St. Luke's