Woman with MS in a wheelchair - featured image to illustrate MS pressure sores

I recently developed pressure sores

I use my wheelchair daily and have recently developed pressure sores. What support I can get with this?

Pressure sores are a common problem for regular wheelchair users and are brought about by sustained pressure on the skin. Causes can include issues with posture, inability to reposition the body and wheelchair sizing. For example, if a person’s feet are not supported properly when seated, the pressure of their body weight will be focused on their buttocks and thighs. This imbalance can lead to pressure sores in these areas. The causes need to be addressed as soon as they are identified to prevent their progression and further complications from arising.

It would be wise to contact your local NHS wheelchair service and request a suitability assessment. These assessments are usually undertaken by an Occupational Therapist (OT) who will review the suitability of your current wheelchair and suggest a package of solutions to help. This may involve the provision of custom seating or replacing your current wheelchair with one that best suits your needs.

If you do not qualify for support from your local NHS wheelchair service (for example if you have purchased your wheelchair privately) your needs can be assessed by a reputable mobility equipment provider, or you can source an independent OT. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists provide an online resource to help you find one.

Keep your skin clean and dry, especially at the main contact points. Try to stay hydrated and eat a healthy balanced diet containing a variety of vitamins and minerals. This will help keep your skin healthy, give it the best chance of preventing pressure sores from forming, and help existing sores heal. If you can, shift your weight regularly to encourage blood circulation and even pressure distribution. Similarly, changing your position in the wheelchair every so often can help to relieve areas at risk of developing pressure sores. You may be able to do this alone or with help from someone else. Glide sheets are also an option to help make the re-positioning process easier and are available from a variety of mobility equipment providers.

Multiple sclerosis pain choices booklet

To find out more about pain and its link to MS, read our pain Choices booklet. The booklet can be viewed electronically or you can order a hard copy, completely free of charge, by using our online order form.