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Complications of Pressure Sores

Topic Overview

Some complications of ongoing pressure sores include:

  • Infections.
    • Cellulitis is an infection of the skin. Cellulitis causes painful, red, hot, swollen skin that may crack, split, or weep fluid.
    • Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. It can cause swollen and red skin over the affected bone. It also can also cause pain that is worse when pressing on the infected area.
  • Bacteremia or a bacterial infection in the blood (sepsis).
  • Necrotizing fasciitis or a bacterial infection that destroys skin and soft tissues such as fat and muscle.
  • Endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart lining. Symptoms of endocarditis include vague, flu-like symptoms, such as chronic low-grade fever and fatigue.
  • Meningitis, which is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spine. Meningitis causes a severe headache with a stiff neck, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Septic arthritis, which is pain and inflammation of a joint caused by a bacterial infection. Septic arthritis causes a joint to be red, hot, swollen, and tender.
  • Abscesses. An abscess can form on the skin or on tissues within the body and cause pain, swelling, and tenderness.
  • Deposits of bone in soft tissues (heterotopic bone formation). These occur especially around the hip joint and can cause pain and problems with walking or moving the legs.
  • Squamous cell skin cancer, especially if the wound lasts for several months or more or if the wound becomes a stage 4 pressure sore. Symptoms of squamous cell cancer include growths or patches of skin that feel scaly, bleed, or develop a crust, and sores that do not heal.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Margaret Doucette, DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine
Last Revised February 22, 2013

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