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J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2005 Mar-Apr;95(2):103-7.

Cooling the foot to prevent diabetic foot wounds: a proof-of-concept trial.

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Department of Surgery, Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Tucson, USA.


The etiology of neuropathic diabetic foot wounds can be summarized by the following formula: pressure x cycles of repetitive stress = ulceration. The final pathway to ulceration consists of an inflammatory response, leading to tissue breakdown. Mitigation of this response might reduce the risk of ulceration. This proof-of-concept trial evaluates whether simple cooling of the foot can safely reduce the time to thermal equilibrium after activity. After a 15-min brisk walk, the six nondiabetic volunteers enrolled were randomly assigned to receive either air cooling or a 10-min 55 degrees F cool water bath followed by air cooling. The process was then repeated with the intervention reversed, allowing subjects to serve as their own controls. There was a rise in mean +/- SD skin temperature after 15 min of activity versus preactivity levels (87.8 degrees +/- 3.9 degrees versus 79 degrees +/- 2.2 degrees F; P = .0001). Water cooling immediately brought the foot to a point cooler than preactivity levels for all subjects, whereas air cooling required an average of nearly 17 min to do so. Ten minutes of cooling required a mean +/- SD of 26.2 +/- 5.9 min to warm to preactivity levels. No adverse effects resulted from the intervention. We conclude that cooling the foot may be a safe and effective method of reducing inflammation and may serve as a prophylactic or interventional tool to reduce skin breakdown risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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