Pressure sores must be taken seriously, if left unchecked, a pressure sore can lead to amputation or in the worst case death. Even when well cared for, a pressure sore can still become infected. Check yourself for red marks and sores daily or have your caregiver check for you, it should be a routine which is as second nature as brushing your teeth.
A pressure sore, also known as a bed sore, is an injury to the skin and the tissue under it. A pressure sore develops when the blood supplying the tissue with oxygen and nutrients is cut off, and the tissue no longer receiving oxygen and nutrients dies. The oxygen and nutrients are essential to maintain healthy tissue. Sitting in the same position for a prolonged period of time can start the process of tissue breakdown.
People who smoke are also at an increased risk of developing a pressure sore due to reduced blood flow to the skin. Those who are overweight or diabetic are also at increased risk.
If you have been paralyzed, you may not feel a pressure sore developing, therefore it is essential to change your position on regular intervals to allow the circulation of blood throughout pressured areas. Normally in an able bodied person, if you are uncomfortable in your seating position, messages from nerves in the skin will be sent via your spinal cord to the brain to indicate discomfort. However in a person with a spinal cord injury, these messages are blocked at the level of injury, and the disabled person may not even be aware at the level of potential damage the skin is in.
Pressure sores are also be referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers. The damage from a pressure sore will range from slight discoloration of the skin (stage 1) to open sores that go all the way to the bone (severe). The affected area may feel warmer than the surrounding tissue. In light-skinned people, the discoloration may appear as dark purple or red. In darker-skinned people, the discoloration will appear darker than the surrounding tissue.