When a wound won’t heal

Published 2:15 pm Sunday, June 19, 2022

By Ken Thomas, MD, family medicine physician with West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital

The body is a complex system that is usually capable of healing itself when injured, but there are times when wounds simply won’t heal. This can lead to serious complications, including extensive infection and even amputation.

Wounds usually improve within 30 days on their own in most people. When the wound doesn’t show signs of improvement after a month, then it’s time to seek qualified wound healing treatment.

The wound could be as simple as a blister, a scrape, a cut or something more severe. Thomas says that many non-healing wounds are located on the feet. Diabetics often have trouble with wound healing due to circulation problems. Their wound might originate from a problem with a toenail, or from stepping on a sharp object. Once the wound occurs in someone with circulatory problems, it can be difficult to heal on its own.

Diabetes isn’t the only cause for wound troubles; non-healing wounds can be a symptom of other health problems, including peripheral arterial disease, lymphedema or an underlying infection.

Nearly 7 million Americans have non-healing wounds, according to the National Institutes of Health. While non-healing wounds can occur at any age, they are typically found in older adults who are dealing with other health issues. As the population continues to age, the number of non-healing wounds will continue to increase.

During the initial evaluation, the wound care representative will get to know the patient, their health history, and find out when the wound was discovered and how it might have occurred. Determining the cause of the wound can help provide the best treatment for healing.

An individualized treatment plan is created for each patient, but most plans follow a general path, including removal of dead tissue around the wound, utilizing special dressings, medications, and possibly the hyperbaric chamber, as well as education and home care.

The hyperbaric chamber, located within WCCH’s Wound Healing Center, increases oxygen delivery to tissue, which will help a wound heal from the inside out.

Having a complete wound healing center here at WCCH allows people in Southwest Louisiana, particularly in West Calcasieu and East Texas, to access state-of-the-art wound healing technology. Healing wounds is what we do, and it makes a tremendous difference in one’s quality of life when our center is able to heal a wound that many felt was almost impossible to heal. The WCCH Wound Healing Center is located within the Community Health Center, on the hospital’s main campus at 703 Cypress Street, Suite A in Sulphur.

In most cases, Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans cover treatments, and patients do not need a referral from a physician to utilize the services of the center. For more information, call the Wound Healing Center of WCCH at (337) 528-4708.