Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a chronic wound?
A. When wounds take longer than the anticipated healing time, they are no longer classified as “acute,” and are called chronic wounds. There is not a normal or expected time for every type of wound to heal, but wounds taking longer than 4-6 weeks are typically classified as chronic wounds.
Q. What causes a chronic wound?
A. Chronic wounds are usually a result of underlying medical conditions that affect the body’s natural ability to heal. Diabetes, poor circulation, malnutrition, immobility and infection are common medical conditions that result in delayed wound healing.
Q. How are chronic wounds treated?
A. Each patient undergoes an initial evaluation of the wound and his or her medical history and current health are reviewed. Blood tests and other laboratory work-ups that provide information about blood and oxygen flow may be ordered to identify medical conditions that can be addressed to facilitate more effective wound healing. Once underlying factors have been addressed that are contributing to the development or slow healing of chronic wounds, an individualized treatment plan is put in place to address these conditions. One of our wound care providers will monitor the healing of the wound with weekly measurements, cleaning, and when indicated, dead tissue will be removed (sharp debridement). The patient and his or her caregivers are then educated about proper wound care and prevention. They’re taught how to care for wounds at home and receive information about nutrition and exercises that may aid in the healing process and prevent future wounds.
Q. What is “sharp” debridement and will it be painful?
A. Surgical or sharp debridement is the removal of dead tissue contained in a chronic wound and exposing good healing tissue. Research has shown that this treatment reduces the time it takes for chronic wounds to heal, reducing the risk for further complications including infection and amputation. Our wound care providers specialize in performing comfortable and safe wound debridements at the patient’s bedside. This often alleviates the need for further treatment involving anesthesia and operating room costs. Topical anesthetics are applied to a wound prior to debridement, resulting in a comfortable procedure. Your nursing team may also provide medication for pain prior to and after a procedure.
Q. Who will be treating my wound?
A. United Wound Healing’s team of advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and Chief Medical Officer work together with each patient’s caregivers to provide a multidisciplinary team of experts caring for each patient’s individual conditions and needs.
Q. How long will it take my wound to heal?
A. Chronic wounds take an average of 70 days to heal (based on national averages). United Wound Healing’s team-centered approach to wound care has resulted in wound healing times that are twice as fast as than the national average.*
Q. Who has chronic wounds and who’s at risk for developing them?
A. More than seven million Americans suffer from chronic wounds, the majority resulting from diabetes. Patients with conditions causing immobility are at risk for pressure ulcers, while other risks include peripheral neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, varicose veins, radiation, insect bites, infected surgical incisions and bone infections (osteomyelitis).
Q. What are the complications of chronic wounds?
A. Complications from chronic wounds can include localized infection and tissue damage resulting in permanent scarring. Severe infections resulting from chronic wounds can result in amputations, infections spreading throughout the body (sepsis), and death.
Q. Where else can I learn more about chronic wounds online?
A. Below are a couple national resources about wounds and wound care:
- Association for the Advancement of Wound Care
- Wound Care Institute Incorporated
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
*Based on United Wound Healing’s average of 33 days to heal all types of wounds compared to the national average of 70 days as of 4/18/17.