Non-Healing Wounds: A Sign of Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition that develops within the arteries. When PAD is present, plaque buildup in the arteries reduces blood flow and oxygen delivery to the legs and may cause a wide range of symptoms. This plaque buildup occurs as a result of atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries,”, and when left untreated, can cause severe symptoms including pain, non-healing wounds, and the possible need for amputation of a limb. Although many people with PAD do not experience any symptoms, it is important to be aware of these potentially dangerous signs and symptoms so you can seek proper vascular care.
Chronic, non-healing wounds are a symptom of PAD. These wounds often occur on the toes, feet, or legs, where blood flow is reduced due to blocked arteries. Those who experience wounds that do not show healing within 1 to 2 weeks may have advanced PAD, and they are encouraged to see their doctor immediately or schedule a consultation at American Endovascular to determine if they need treatment or are at risk of serious complications.
Symptoms of Non-Healing Wounds
Wound healing is something most people do not think twice about. Normally, the body is able to do its job to close up wounds after an injury, but for those with certain medical conditions, it can be more difficult, or even impossible, for wounds to heal on their own. A wound that has not healed after just a few weeks is considered a non-healing wound. Symptoms of non-healing wounds include:
- Wounds that do not show signs of healing (scab formation, getting smaller) over 1 to 2 weeks
- Wounds associated with leg numbness, worsening pain, a history of pain when walking or leg elevation, or weakness and loss of muscle size in the affected leg
- Redness or swelling that extends beyond the wound, particularly with drainage or a bad smell that may indicate a dangerous wound infection
- Wounds that are getting progressively larger or when underlying tissues such as tendon or bone is exposed
Causes of Non-Healing Wounds
A variety of medical conditions and factors can cause delayed wound healing. It is important to determine the cause of this symptom so that the right treatment steps can be taken. Non-healing wounds can present a danger to those affected, as the wound can continue to worsen and cause long-term health problems. Some causes of chronic wounds include:
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
- High blood pressure
- Repeated trauma
- Skin conditions
- Autoimmune diseases
- Certain medications
How Does Peripheral Artery Disease Cause Non-Healing Wounds?
When the body is generally healthy, the regular healing process for a wound kicks in automatically. Healing involves teamwork from various parts of the body, including the blood vessels, immune system, and skin tissue. Strong blood flow to and from a wound site is crucial for the healing process.
However, peripheral artery disease delays wound healing. It inhibits blood flow to the lower extremities and takes away a wound’s access to the resources it needs to heal. Patients with PAD may have non-healing wounds on the leg, feet, and ankles. These wounds can lead to painful sores and other issues, including infection or more severe complications.
Find out if you are at risk for Peripheral Artery Disease.
Treatment for Non-Healing Wounds Associated with PAD
Treatment of non-healing wounds involves treating the wound itself and its underlying cause. If you are diagnosed with PAD, your physician will guide you on proper wound care techniques to avoid further complications down the road. At American Endovascular, we provide several innovative treatment options for peripheral artery disease to help each patient get on track to healthier living.
Severe PAD brings a greater risk of potential limb loss, especially when non-healing wounds are present. At American Endovascular, we are experts in limb salvage and preservation so that patients can avoid amputation whenever possible, using innovative techniques and technologies such as pedal loop intervention.
During angioplasty, a low-profile catheter with an inflatable balloon attached is used to stretch open the affected artery and restore blood flow to the rest of the body. This process can also be used to address artery-blocking clots, as medicine can be administered through the catheter if needed.
Atherectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that has evolved with cutting-edge advances including orbital, rotational, and diamond-coated surfaces technology. During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into the artery via a minimally-invasive incision. This process is often utilized to treat arteries or blood vessels that are not easily treated with stents.
A stent is a metallic-based implantable device that is inserted into an artery to address conditions like PAD. This process provides the artery with a new skeletal framework, strengthens its walls, and allows it to remain open. This supports blood flow to other parts of the body, including the lower extremities.
What to Expect from Your PAD Treatment
Our Vascular Specialists
Our affiliated endovascular specialists at American Endovascular proudly work with patients of all ages to address endovascular conditions and issues, including PAD. The members of our team are recognized as innovators and leaders in vascular and interventional radiology. We will ensure that all of your questions and concerns are addressed every step of the way.
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