Would healing is an extremely complex process, especially in people who suffered from longstanding and chronic wounds. In saying that, there are 7 factors that can influence wound healing that is controllable and can be changed to help decrease wound healing times.
Controllable Factors That Influence Wound Healing
- Pressure on the wound
- Blood flow to the wound (vascular status)
- Psychological issues
Now, let’s look at each of these individually.
Nutritional intake plays an important role in your body ability to heal. If you have a wound that is oozing a lot of fluid, your requirements for nutrition may be different to your requirements before you had the wound.
Wound healing alone takes good nutrition to heal. Protein intake is one major requirement that changes when your body is trying to heal a wound. According to Eplasty (2009), a healthy adult requires .8grams of protein per kilogram of body weight which equates to 60-70g of protein per day. But for those with wounds, more protein is needed at around 1.5g of protein per kilo, per day.
Other essential nutrients for healing include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
Eplasty (2009) goes into each individual nutrient requirement in-depth, I highly recommend reading this article HERE
If you have a wound, especially if it is chronic in nature, I recommend you have an assessment from a dietician to further evaluate your nutritional needs and provide a tailored program just for you.
Related Post: Best Foods For Wound Healing
Oedema occurs when there is fluid trapped in certain tissues in the body leading to swelling. Having excess fluid, especially in the legs and if you have a leg wound can slow down wound healing. Oedema causes stiffness, pain, and difficulty walking if it is severe.
The overload of the fluid reduces the blood flow to that area and to the wound area. Good blood flow is essential for wound healing as it delivers oxygen and nutrients to the wound site, and removes waste.
To reduce fluid, and working in conjunction with your local medical provider, you may be started on a fluid tablet, such as Lasix. Other recommendations may include keeping your feet up, reducing fluid intake, and wearing compression garments.
Note: If your considering trying compression garments, please see your health care professional first. They may need to test your circulation to determine if compression is safe for you to use.
Pressure on the wound
What do we do when we have cut ourselves and we need to stop the bleeding? We apply pressure on the area, right?
Applying pressure to an area reduces the blood supply.
If you have a wound that is under an area of pressure, such as a foot ulcer or bedsore, it is essential that pressure is removed to restore normal blood flow to the area. The skin under pressure for extended periods causes the tissue to die, due to the lack of oxygen supply and nutrition getting to the area.
So if you have a wound that is getting pressure, try and remove that pressure to ensure blood flow is getting to the area. If you have a wound on your foot, seeking help from a podiatrist or wound management nurse may help implement strategies to help you heal faster.
Blood Flow To The Wound
For those suffering from lower limb and foot ulcers, it is essential you have enough blood supply to heal the wounds. Having blockages in your blood supply is common for those with diabetes, who smoke and those who are obese.
If you are not healing as fast as you expected, consult with your local medical practitioner for them to assess if you may need further investigations into your blood supply. Blood supply can be checked by simple non-invasive tests, and depending on the results, may lead to further investigations.
For people with lower-limb blockages, vascular interventions can open up the blocked vessels to increase the blood flow, and therefore get good blood flow to the wounds for improved healing.
Having pain can directly impact not on your ability to heal, but on your psychological well being. In my practice, ensuring my patients have adequate pain relief is of utmost importance. Just because you have a wound, does not mean you need to suffer.
There are some fantastic treatments out there that can help ease your pain, not only during your dressing changes but throughout the day. Having a good pain management plan put in place is essential, this may include a tablet regime, counselling, and mindfulness practices.
Pain is a controllable aspect that may impede wound healing. Suffering from pain does not mean you are any more of a person than someone who asks for pain relief.
Psychological issues ties in with pain management, if you’re struggling with the complexity of your wound, there help out there to help get you through it. Adequate pain management, counselling, family networking and supports all help your wound to heal. There is a strong body-mind connection, and managing this with the support of your health care provider can make a lot of difference.
Looking at the International Wound Infection Wound Infection Continuum, there is a pathway to infection, where during that pathway an intervention can stop the progression of more serious infection such as systemic infection. Using strict aseptic technique for wound dressings and choosing the right dressings can avoid wound infections.
When bugs grow in populations in the wound, this leads up the pathway to cause infection, which slows down wound healing.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post on controllable factors that impede wound healing.
Written by Emilie Masi. Registered Nurse and Clinical Nurse Consultant in Wound Management.