What is a chronic wound?

Simply put, a chronic wound is a wound that does not heal. Chronic wounds are persistent and slow healing, so they can be very challenging for the people suffering from them, the health care professionals who try to heal them, and the health care system and insurance companies that pay for treatment.3 Under normal circumstances, when the skin is injured, it will progress through normal physiologic processes to repair itself. In a short amount of time, the skin is intact and back to performing its normal function of providing a protective barrier from the environment. However, with a chronic wound, something is occurring that prevents the body from healing on its own.

Chronic wounds affect approximately 5 million Americans and approximately 60 million people worldwide. They significantly impair quality of life. The costs for treating patients with chronic wounds in the United States have been estimated to be more than $7 billion per year.

These wounds require intensive treatment interventions that tax numerous aspects of the health care continuum. Chronic wounds often times include infections which can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic, pressure ulcers (bed sores), diabetic ulcers, burns, radiation, frostbite, venous or arterial ulcers, and refractory cysts. Chronic wounds are very debilitating and painful and can limit a persons mobility and quality of life.

People who suffer from chronic wounds often suffer from numerous problems. These wounds cause significant physical disability and extensive pain, if chronic wounds are left untreated it may lead to disability, assisted living, home care, depression, loss of digit or limb, infection, effect social needs, experience mental anguish, or even cause death. A wide variety of health care professionals are required to address each of these issues. Through this clinics collaborative model, we are able to obtain a perspective and level of understanding that no single discipline can individually provide.