Back to Health Feed Home

Three reasons a wound might not heal

You have a wound that is not getting better despite the passing days. You are worried and uncomfortable — perhaps even in debilitating pain. You want answers. You want progress.

“Wounds with escalating severity can significantly impact quality of life,” says Deborah Goldsmith, M.D., a specialist in infectious disease and wound care at the Maury Regional Wound Center. “It’s important to pay attention to how your body is healing — or, in some cases, not healing — and act accordingly.”

The causes of wounds are complex and can vary from person to person, Dr. Goldsmith says, but three common reasons someone might need wound care include:

  • Diabetes
  • Vascular complications
  • Infections

The high levels of blood glucose in patients with diabetes can affect nerves and cause poor blood circulation. This prevents blood from reaching areas of the body — particularly extremities, such as feet and legs — impacted by cuts, grazes or blisters and slows the healing process or inhibits skin repair from taking place altogether.

“Diabetic wounds and ulcers often appear on feet, so if you have diabetes it’s important to check your feet frequently for possible wounds — especially if you are not experiencing physical sensations of pain in your feet due to nerve damage,” Dr. Goldsmith says.

Venous ulcers, a type of wound caused by vascular complications that typically appears on the lower legs or ankles, can occur when blood does not flow up through the veins in the leg to the heart as it normally should. This can result in blood leaking or flowing backward, which may lead to leg pain as well as shallow sores with red bases or unevenly shaped borders, foul odor, pus or surrounding skin that’s tight, shiny, discolored or warm.

Another common cause of escalating wounds is infections. If germs enter the body via an existing wound, the patient may experience fever, draining pus on the wound and skin surrounding the wound that is painful or hot to the touch.

“Ask your doctor for a referral for wound care treatment or contact an advanced wound center directly if you experience any of these symptoms or if you observe a wound that isn’t healing in 30 days,” Dr. Goldsmith says. “The sooner you meet with a wound specialist, the sooner you can begin the diagnostic and treatment process to improve your quality of life.”

Specialists like Dr. Goldsmith work with patients to diagnose why a wound may not be healing by evaluating the wound, conducting lab tests and cultures, reviewing medical history and consulting with the patient as well as his or her primary care physician. Using that knowledge, the wound care team creates and implements treatment programs designed specifically with their patients’ unique needs in mind.

Visit MauryRegional.com/Wound-Care for more information about wound treatment and what to expect from a visit to an advanced wound care center.


Deborah Goldsmith, M.D.,

is a specialist in infectious disease and wound care on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee, which offers an advanced Wound Center on its main campus at 1218 Trotwood Avenue.