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Dr. Ben Connolly

Diabetic Ulcers and Other Chronic Wounds

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In response to Chronic Pain Awareness Month, we’ve been discussing pain all September. So far we’ve covered an array of different causes of pain, including arthritis, IBS, and Crohns, as well as the advantages of using medical marijuana in alleviating pain. For this final week we’re switching our focus to diabetic ulcers, a painful type of chronic wound.

Let’s take a minute to go over exactly what a chronic wound is. Although different from your typical wound for a number of a reasons, the main difference is that a chronic wound doesn’t heal in the natural progression of stages (Inflammation, Proliferation, and Maturation), and often remains in one stage for too long. Overall, the rule of thumb is that if a wound doesn’t heal within 3 months, it’s considered chronic.

Poorly managed diabetes can cause ulcers that fall under the classification of chronic wounds. Foot ulcers are a common complication of unmanaged diabetes and are generally caused by poor blood flow to the area, or lack of a nerve pain response, which leads to an injury. In severe cases, the skin tissue can break down all the way to the bone. An initial indication of a serious wound is drainage from the site, or darkened or black tissue surrounding the ulcer (a sign that healthy blood flow is absent from the area).

With proper care, foot ulcers due to diabetes can be avoided. Preventative measures are the best way to ensure that you don’t end up with a chronic wound associated with an ulcer of this type, but recognizing the symptoms immediately and seeking assistance are just as vital.

Fortunately, there are a number of viable routes one can take on the journey to repairing chronic wounds. Research into natural treatments shows benefits both in reducing the time required to close a wound and in limiting infection. Our specialized wound healing program at Cornerstone Naturopathic incorporates a three stage system of inflammation, tissue reformation, and tissue remodeling.

 

 

The Inflammation Phase of wound healing is your body’s natural response to injury, which involves a clot formation and the release of pro-inflammatory signaling to begin the healing process. The next phase is the Tissue Formation Phase (also known as the Proliferative Phase). Here, the wound is rebuilt with new tissue made from collagen, the deposition of an extracellular matrix, and new blood vessel formation. This secondary phase heavily relies on fibroblast cells, which continue to construct new tissue, as well as the ability of the damaged tissue to receive enough oxygen and nutrients from red blood cells in circulation.

The final phase of this process is Tissue Remodeling, or Maturation. Here, the wound has closed and the collagen that was laid during the proliferative phase is remodeled from type III collagen to type I.

It’s important to remember that anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing foot ulcers. It’s an unfortunate condition that can, thankfully, be managed or avoided with proper care. Contact us today for more information on our Specialized Wound Healing treatment, or for a general inquiry.

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