Woman's back pain was a sign of something much more sinister

A SIMPLE callus has warped into a lengthy recovery phase for Megan Allen. Perhaps most daunting; it could have been even worse.

Having been diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic 26 years ago, Ms Allen has since managed her condition through exercise.

She went running regularly, before noticing an ulcer on her foot in addition to severe back pain.

While there was no pain around the ulcer, the back pain eventually led to a hospital visit. Two foot surgeries have since transpired as the ulcer turned into an infected chronic wound.

Since February Ms Allen has been required to wear a moon-boot, which has diminished her ability to maintain the active lifestyle she was accustomed to.

While the wound was on the mend, she shuddered to think what could have happened if it was left untreated.

"I lead a fairly active lifestyle, and with the injury it has meant I've had to sit down a lot and really rest up," Ms Allen said.

Mackay Base Hospital advanced podiatrist Alicia Boylan and her patient Megan Allen.
Mackay Base Hospital advanced podiatrist Alicia Boylan and her patient Megan Allen. Nick Wright

"I was on this really fast trajectory of trying to get fit, and the wound prevented that. (It) took close to five months to fully recover .. (and) it also impacted on the amount of hours I could work.

"If it hadn't been identified as quickly then it could have been quite dire."

Ms Allen shared her story at Mackay Base Hospital in recognition of Wound Awareness Week.

Chronic wounds caused by pressure injuries, venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and arterial insufficiency ulcers affect more than 420,000 Australians, and account for a national healthcare cost of $3 billion.

Left untreated, wounds ignored - believed to heal on its own - can result in measures as drastic as amputations.

Mackay Base Hospital advanced podiatrist Alicia Boylan has worked with Ms Allen throughout the recovery process.

After the initial surgery, Ms Boylan said they noticed a deeper infection in the wound and it was not healing as it should.

She said it was imperative anyone with a wound lasting more than four weeks and changing colour sought medical advice.

"Healing a wound, particularly a chronic wound, is a complex process and it can be a painful and emotional experience for the person and their family," Ms Boylan said.

"If left untreated, chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possibly amputation of the affected limb.

"The good news is comprehensive treatment and support is available and we encourage people to talk to their healthcare provider about wound management when symptoms appear.

"Any wound on a patient, especially with chronic illnesses, has the potential to lead to severe morbidity or mortality."

Ms Allen said complacency had no place in health, and encouraged the community to be vigilant should they have a wound and not sweep it under the rug.



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