Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of a self-administered cooling treatment on clinically meaningful differences (CMDs) in symptom changes in patients with chronic venous disease.
Design: Blinded, prospective, randomized controlled trial.
Subjects and setting: Two hundred seventy-six community-dwelling adults 21 years and older with skin changes and/or a healed venous leg ulcer (Clinical-Etiologic-Anatomic-Pathologic [CEAP] 4 and 5 classification) completed the 6-month active treatment period.
Methods: Participants were recruited from wound and medicine clinics and from the general population through referrals or advertisements. Participants were randomly allocated to a sham control cuff or interventional cooling cuff group. Demographic and symptom-specific data were collected at baseline and at months 1, 3, and 6 with the 11-item symptom Venous Insufficiency Epidemiological and Economic Study Quality of Life/Symptom (VEINES QOL/Sym) questionnaire subscale for heavy legs, aching legs, swelling, night cramps, heating or burning sensation, restless legs, throbbing, itching, tingling sensation (pins and needles), pain, and irritability. Participants in the intervention group received a cooling gel cuff and those in the control group received a cotton-filled cuff to be place around the most affected lower leg during leg elevation. Both groups received standard of care for their chronic venous disease with compression wraps and skin hygiene. Dosing consisted of daily 30-minute treatment for 1 month, twice weekly for 2 months, and then thrice weekly for 3 months. To analyze and compare data, a mixed percentage clinically meaningful percentage change was used to assess CMDs in symptoms between groups for treatment modality, sex, and age group.
Results: All symptoms showed improvement, with throbbing, aching, itching, and pain demonstrating the greatest CMD in response to the cooling treatment. For throbbing and aching, similar improvements were noted in response to cooling; 50% in the cooling group showed improvement, whereas 60% in both groups responded favorably to pain. More than 50% of females and males reported improvements in throbbing; both males and females reported 60% improvements in pain in response to cooling. In contrast, far fewer females reported worsening of aching in the treatment group as compared to male participants (8% vs 20%). Age differences were noted for throbbing in the younger group (<65 years of age); older individuals 65 years or older saw CMDs in aching in response to cooling.
Conclusions: Of the 11 symptoms, aching, throbbing, itching, and pain had greater clinically meaningful improvements in response to a cooling cuff applied to lower leg skin affected by chronic venous disease. These CMDs inform evidence-based practice by enhancing clinician understanding of which symptoms, physical, physiological, and behavioral outcomes, respond to treatment change in a meaningful way for the patient.