I’m sure that every time you change the dressing on your wound, you’re thinking “This looks awful!” Our patients often make these kinds of remarks when they attend therapy for wound healing. Wounds can be tricky, but here are some signs to look out for as your injury heals.
Is my Wound Healing Properly?
If your wound is healing properly, then you should see red and pink colored tissue that has a wet appearance. This is called healthy granulation tissue, which is new skin. You should not have much pain with a red wound. Occasionally, patients will experience nerve pain with a wound, which feels like sharp, sporadic, electric type shocks. Nerve pain is not constant.
A Wound That is Possibly Infected
Signs that your wound is not healing properly can include pain, drainage, pus, or fever. Yellow discharge (our fancy term is exudate) can allow for bacteria growth. Your therapist may attempt to remove most yellow tissue from the wound after using the whirlpool. If your wound is draining or leaking pus, it may be infected, and you should contact your doctor. Black tissue (also known as necrotic tissue) is dead tissue, and may need to be softened and removed. If you have a fingertip amputation, your therapist may leave the black necrotic tissue because it acts as a protectant to allow the fingertip to heal. For more information on fingertip amputations, click here.
Open Wound Treatment
Hand therapy treatment will look different depending on how your wound looks. We use different dressings based on different stages of wound healing. If your wound has a lot of dead tissue, we may use the whirlpool to clean it off. Your therapist may remove some of the dead tissue with cotton swabs or tweezers. This may be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful. Your therapist will then re-dress your hand or finger. As the wound heals, you may only need a band-aid or you may leave it open to air. After the skin closes completely, your therapist will teach you desensitization exercises. These exercises are important to re-teach your new skin what normal sensations feel like. Typically this new skin is hyper-sensitive which can lead to pain, which leads to disuse. We want you to starting using your hand, and getting rid of hypersensitivity is an important step.
Have you sustained an injury between or including your shoulder and fingertips? Do you suspect that your workplace environment is causing you pain? If so, you could be a candidate for hand therapy services at LB Hand Therapy in Maryland. Visit our Where to Begin page to become a patient.