Thrombophlebitis (throm-bo-fluh-BI-tis) occurs when a blood clot causes swelling in one or more of your veins, typically in your legs. Rarely, thrombophlebitis (sometimes called phlebitis) can affect veins in your arms or neck.
The affected vein may be near the surface of your skin, causing superficial thrombophlebitis, or deep within a muscle, causing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A clot in a deep vein increases your risk of serious health problems, including a dislodged clot (embolus) traveling to your lungs and blocking a pulmonary artery (pulmonary embolism). Thrombophlebitis can be caused by prolonged inactivity, such as sitting for a long time or lengthy bed rest.
Self-care methods can ease pain and reduce your risk of clots. Various treatments, including medications and surgery, are available for thrombophlebitis.
Blood clot in leg vein
A blood clot in a leg vein may cause pain, warmth and tenderness in the affected area. ...
Thrombophlebitis symptoms include:
When a vein close to the surface of your skin is affected, you may see a red, hard and tender cord just under the surface of your skin. When a deep vein in the leg is affected, your leg may become swollen, tender and painful, most noticeably when you stand or walk. You may also have a fever. However, many people with deep vein thrombosis have no symptoms.
When to see a doctor
The cause of thrombophlebitis is a blood clot. Blood clots can be caused by many different things — namely anything that causes your blood not to circulate properly. It's possible a blood clot that causes thrombophlebitis could be caused by:
Blood clots can occur for a number of reasons. One concern many people have is that blood clots can be caused by sitting for hours at a time, as when you're traveling by car or airplane. While sitting for long periods can promote a blood clot that can lead to thrombophlebitis, this occurs relatively rarely. By taking proper precautions, such as periodically stretching your legs or getting up to walk around, you can decrease your risk of developing thrombophlebitis.
Your risk of thrombophlebitis increases if you:
The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of thrombophlebitis. If you have one or more risk factors, be sure to discuss prevention strategies with your doctor before long periods of inactivity, such as a long flight, a long car ride or after an elective surgery.
If thrombophlebitis is in a vein just under your skin (superficial vein), complications are rare. However, if the clot occurs in a deep vein you may develop a serious medical condition known as deep vein thrombosis. If that happens, the risk of serious complications is greater. Complications may include:
Deep vein thrombosis also may damage valves in the veins in your legs. Veins have valves to prevent blood from flowing back as it is gradually pushed uphill toward your heart. When the valves in the veins of your legs don't work properly, several problems can occur:
Pulmonary embolism occurs when blood clots (emboli) become lodged in a lung artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue. Blood clots often originate in the legs. ...
Preparing for your appointment
You don't need to make any special preparations for a doctor appointment to diagnose thrombophlebitis.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For thrombophlebitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
To diagnose thrombophlebitis, your doctor will ask you about the discomfort you've had and then look for any affected veins near the surface of your skin. To determine whether you have superficial thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis, your doctor may choose one of these tests:
Treatments and drugs
If thrombophlebitis occurs in a vein just under your skin, your doctor may recommend self-care steps that include applying heat to the painful area, elevating the affected leg and using an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The condition usually doesn't require hospitalization and improves within a week or two.
Your doctor may also recommend these treatments for thrombophlebitis, including deep vein thrombosis:
Lifestyle and home remedies
In addition to medical treatments, there are some self-care measures you can take to help improve thrombophlebitis.
If you have superficial thrombophlebitis:
If you have deep vein thrombosis:
If you're taking warfarin, ask your doctor if you need to alter your diet. Foods high in vitamin K, such as leafy green vegetables, can affect the way this medication works.
Sitting during a long flight or car ride can cause swollen ankles and calves. The inactivity also increases your risk of thrombophlebitis in the veins of your legs. To help prevent a blood clot from forming:
On flights or car rides lasting more than four hours, take additional precautions to reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis:
If you're at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, talk to your doctor before your flight. He or she may recommend that you use:
Aspirin therapy is generally not recommended and could thin your blood too much if you're also taking warfarin (Coumadin). Let your doctor know if you're already taking aspirin for another reason.
Compression stockings (also called support stockings) compress your legs, promoting circulation. A stocking butler may help you put on the stockings. ...
Last Updated: 2011-01-28
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