Wound Care

Wound healing treatment, also called specialized wound care, helps patients with wounds and injures that are not healing properly. Non-healing wounds can lead to infections and amputations in severe cases. MaineHealth wound care specialists treat a wide variety of wound such as:

  • Diabetic ulcers

  • Pressure ulcers

  • Vascular ulcers

  • Traumatic wounds

  • Surgical wounds

What is a non-healing wound?

A non-healing wound is a wound that doesn’t heal within five to eight weeks, even though you’ve been following your provider’s instructions to take care of it. This can be very serious, because it can become infected and lead to an illness or even the loss of a limb. A non-healing wound sometimes is called a chronic wound. There are many different types of non-healing wounds, but the most common is an ulcer.

Who is at risk for a non-healing wound?

It is very important to see your provider if you have a hard-to-heal wound. Many people are at risk for non-healing wounds. They include people with:

  • Diabetes, anemia, cancer and other long-term medical conditions.
  • Heart issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or varicose veins.
  • Immobility, such as being confined to a wheelchair or bed.
  • Unhealthy habits such as smoking, not eating a healthy diet or not being active.
  • A weak immune system from chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, or medical conditions such as AIDS.
  • A history of ulcers.

Non-healing wound symptoms

Call your provider if you have a wound or ulcer and see any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain around the wound that doesn’t improve or seems to get worse.
  • Dark or blue color around the edges of the wound.
  • Wound that seems to be weeping, draining or leaking more.
  • Redness or swelling that spreads away from the wound.
  • The wound starts to smell bad.

Non-healing wound treatments

Wound treatments are based on the type and severity of the wound or ulcer. If you have a non-healing wound, your provider will discuss your options with you and help you decide the right treatment. Basic wound care treatment may include:

  • Topical wound medication and specialized dressings
  • Compression wrapping
  • Compression stockings
  • Patient education on self-care
  • Antibiotics
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Debridement, or removing unhealthy tissue
  • Ultrasound (heals using sound waves)
  • Negative pressure therapy (air is pulled from a closed dressing, which improves blood flow and draws out excess fluids from the wound)
  • Growth-factor therapy (help wound-healing cells to grow)
  • Surgery

Why aren’t my wounds healing properly?

There are many things that can slow wound healing or keep a wound from healing as it should. These include:

  • Poor blood circulation

  • Poorly functioning veins

  • Immobility (being confined to a bed or wheelchair)

  • Low oxygen levels

  • Severity of the wound

  • Other health conditions, such as diabetes

  • Aging

  • Stress

  • Certain medications

  • Obesity

  • Drinking too much alcohol

  • Not having a healthy diet

  • Smoking

  • Nerve damage

How can I get wound healing treatment?

If you have a non-healing wound, ask your primary care provider to refer you for wound care specialty services. Our specialized wound care teams are equipped with advanced technology and follow effective, evidence-based, treatment plans. Your MaineHealth wound care team will keep your primary care provider updated on your treatments and progress.

Physical & Occupational Therapy for Chronic Wounds

MaineHealth physical and occupational therapists work with patients of all ages to help them increase strength, flexibility and mobility. Your wound care team may recommend PT/OT services to help you heal. 

If you have a wound that isn't healing, talk to your primary care physician about a referral to a wound care specialist. MaineHealth wound patients are supported by a interdisciplinary team of specialists to ensure the best possible care. During your evaluation and treatment with us, you may meet with some of the following specialists:

  • Physicians specializing in wound healing

  • Infectious disease specialists

  • Certified wound ostomy continence nurses

  • Physical therapists

  • Plastic surgeons

  • Vascular surgeons

During your appointment, a specialist will examine you to assess your overall health status and to determine the type, size and severity of your wound. It is important to tell the specialist about your medical history, current health conditions, medications you are taking, and any side effects that you are experiencing. This information will help the specialist figure out the best treatment options for you.

After this evaluation, the specialist may decide that more tests are needed. These may include:

People who use a wheelchair or other mobility system can develop wounds associated with improper positioning. MaineHealth can help people with special needs optimize their mobility while ensuring safe and effective positioning. Properly-fitted mobility systems offer multiple benefits, including:

  • Reduced risk of secondary conditions such as wounds, scoliosis, muscle contractions and pressure ulcers
  • Increased ability to participate in activities of daily living
  • Maximum independence within the home, school and community environment
  • Increased participation in self-care, social, educational and vocational activities
  • Improved symmetry, trunk control and alignment
  • Positive impact on respiration, blood pressure, tone, skin integrity, bladder and bowel function, swallowing, eating and other oral-motor skills

For more information, please visit Maine Medical Partners Neurosurgery & Spine.

Sue's Story

One of Sue’s favorite things was to walk and play at the beach with her grandson. After a chronic wound on her foot that would not heal, she was not able to walk. With the help of the team at the Wound Healing & Hyperbaric practice, they got Sue back on her feet, literally! See Sue walk the beach again!