What Is A Pressure Ulcer?
A pressure ulcer usually appears as an open wound due to the skin becoming so badly damaged that it breaks down or dies. The problem can present itself as a simple nuisance or as a life-threatening condition.
A number of factors can contribute to the development of a pressure ulcer but the cause is pressure (usually in bony areas such as the elbow, the heel of the foot, the lower back or the shoulders) for an extended period of time because the patient is inactive, perhaps confined to a bed or wheelchair. The reason for the pressure causing the problem is the blocking of blood supply to the area.
In its early stages, a pressure ulcer can appear harmless enough; the color of the skin turns pink or red and does not return to normal after the pressure is removed.As the condition worsens, the skin eventually becomes cracked, blistered or broken.
In order to better understand the concept, consider what happens when a tourniquet is applied to a badly bleeding wound to reduce the blood supply and prevent massive bleeding. Pressure on the skin and underlying tissue works like a tourniquet in that it prevents the supply of blood and nutrients from reaching that particular area. If the situation becomes chronic, cells will die. In fact, once the skin color turns from red or pink to white, and remains white, deterioration of the skin and tissue has already occurred.
In medical terms, an ulcer refers to a crater-like lesion.A peptic ulcer, for instance, has the same characteristics but is found in the stomach and is caused by distinctive factors that differ from those which cause pressure ulcers.
Skin breakdown often happens to people who are bedridden and not very mobile.Continuous pressure is exerted on certain parts of the body due to lack of movement.The condition can be tender and painful. Decubitus Ulcer is the traditional medical term. Decubitus (pronounced dee-CUBE-i-tus) derives from the Latin word "decumbere" meaning to lie down, referring to its frequent occurrence among people who are immobile and confined to bed.
The best definition is that a leg ulcer is tissue breakdown on the leg or foot due to any cause. They occur in association with a range of disease processes, most commonly with venous and/or arterial disease. Those of venous origin are associated with venous hypertension arising from venous damage. How venous hypertension is translated into full-thickness skin defects is not clear, though fibrin deposits, decreased fibrin breakdown and white cell accumulation have been implicated. Leg ulcers occur in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, and may occasionally be self-inflicted either inadvertently or deliberately. What part nutritional or biochemical factors contribute to leg ulcers in not clear.
A wound is a break in the skin, usually associated with physical injury.This is possibly the furthest removed terms for a pressure ulcer but the medical profession often includes this term in the pressure ulcer category. It's fair to note that a normal wound, with none of the high-risk factors such as poor circulation, pressure on the skin of immobility, will generally heal more quickly than a pressure ulcer.