Control of lower extremity edema in patients with diabetes: Double blind randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of mild compression diabetic socks

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017 May:127:35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2017.02.025. Epub 2017 Feb 27.


Aims: Persons with diabetes frequently present with lower extremity (LE) edema; however, compression therapy is generally avoided for fear of compromising arterial circulation in a population with a high prevalence of peripheral arterial disease. This double blind randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessed whether diabetic socks with mild compression could reduce LE edema in patients with diabetes without negatively impacting vascularity.

Methods: Eighty subjects with LE edema and diabetes were randomized to receive either mild-compression knee high diabetic socks (18-25mmHg) or non-compression knee high diabetic socks. Subjects were instructed to wear the socks during all waking hours. Follow-up visits occurred weekly for four consecutive weeks. Edema was quantified through midfoot, ankle, and calf circumferences and cutaneous fluid measurements. Vascular status was tracked via ankle brachial index (ABI), toe brachial index (TBI), and skin perfusion pressure (SPP).

Results: Seventy-seven subjects (39 controls and 38 mild-compression subjects) successfully completed the study. No statistical differences between the two groups in terms of age, body mass index, gender, and ethnicity. Repeated measures analysis of variance and Sidak corrections for multiple comparisons were used for data analyses. Subjects randomized to mild-compression diabetic socks demonstrated significant decreases in calf and ankle circumferences at the end of treatment as compared to baseline. LE circulation did not diminish throughout the study with no significant decreases in ABI, TBI or SPP for either group.

Conclusions: Results of this RCT suggest that mild compression diabetic socks may be effectively and safely used in patients with diabetes and LE edema.

Keywords: Diabetes; Edema; Lower extremity; Mild compression; Sock; Swelling.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ankle Brachial Index / methods*
  • Compression Bandages / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Edema / etiology
  • Edema / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / physiopathology
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease / therapy*