Many times, the sight of blood is the first indication that we’ve injured ourselves. We may not feel that scratch, that bite or that little puncture, but when a foreign object breaks the skin, we bleed.
But some of us might not – or at least not as well as we should. And that’s bad news for your odds of healing properly. Compromised blood flow, such as with peripheral artery disease (PAD), may cause your wound to take twice as long to heal. Even worse, when you have neuropathy coupled with PAD, you might not feel the wound as it occurs and you may not bleed enough to discover it. For 6.5 million people with these vascular challenges, a wound may never heal.
Blood is vital to the healing process. We may think that it’s skin cells working away – and they are – but your blood is behind it all.
When you first injure yourself and your skin breaks, within seconds blood cells called platelets begins to clot, and the fibrin protein within the platelets forms a net to hold that clot. The clot is created both to form a protective barrier on the wound and to close off the open blood vessel, reducing blood loss.
White blood cells called macrophage now go to work, fighting infection and helping to clean your injury. Red blood cells, rich in the nutrients and oxygen vital to your healing, help to repair the site. Your body creates collagen, a kind of framework, and tissues begin to grow and fill in that framework.
Depending upon the location and severity of your wound, it could take a few days to over a year to fully heal. When your wound is not healing like it should, there are a number of factors to consider.
When your blood flow is compromised, too few platelets are being delivered to the injury site. Blood cannot clot to begin the healing process and infection becomes more likely as the blood vessel remains open to bacteria. If your blood vessels are too narrow to adequately deliver white blood cells, your wound is at a higher risk of infection.
Too few red blood cells arriving at your wound means that your injury doesn’t get the oxygen necessary for healing, and your wound site retains too much carbon dioxide.
Healthy healing depends on healthy blood flow. If you have a wound that is not healing like it should, call our offices in Olympia Fields, New Lenox, Orland Park or Chicago by dialing 815-824-4406. Our vascular professionals will assess your wound and create a healing plan that is just right for your health and lifestyle.
If you have suspect you have PAD, especially if you experience pain while walking that lessens when you rest, make an appointment with us immediately. PAD not only interferes with wound healing, it also puts you at a greater risk of stroke.