What causes bedsores and what happens if they go untreated?

If you've ever had a loved one that's experienced declined mobility due to either an illness, injury or disability, then there's a good chance that they may have ended up with bedsores as a result. Individuals most often afflicted by them are those who remain seated or laying down for a large portion of the day.

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, as they're also referred to, are one of the many ill effects that result from an individual's skin being subjected to prolonged pressure. These sores often begin to form along the skin covering bone. The areas of the body most susceptible to bedsores varies depending on whether an individual is subjected to being seated or laying down for extended period of time.

For those who sit a lot, for example in wheelchairs, they're most likely to develop bedsores along their tailbone region, along their triceps, their spine and shoulder blades. For those who spend significant time laying in bed, in addition to their tailbone and shoulder blades, they're likely to develop bedsores along the side or rear portion of their heads, ankles, hips, heels, lower back and knees.

Bedsores develop fast. Some of the earliest signs of their onset are patches of tender skin. In some cases, affected areas will vary in temperature, texture or color from other portions of the skin. In more severe cases, skin will begin to swell and then begin excreting pus.

How quickly they improve greatly depends on how bad the bedsore was allowed to get before it was diagnosed. If caught early when the skin is red or just beginning to crack, then moving an individual will likely result in their full recovery.

However, if a bedsore goes undiagnosed or untreated for an extended period of time, then it may result in lasting damage to either the bone or muscle tissue. Over time, an untreated bedsore could give way to certain types of cancer, cellulitis, sepsis or different types of joint and bone infections including osteomyelitis or septic arthritis.

Bedsores are quite common among those who spend prolonged periods of time in the care of assisted living facilities, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. If your loved one has suffered bedsores at one of these types of facilities, then a Tucson, Arizona, nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can advise you of legal remedies available to you.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Bedsores (pressure ulcers)," accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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