Thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory condition of the vein caused due to the formation of blood clots that clog one or more veins. In thrombophlebitis the vein may appear as a red, firm cord just beneath the skin's surface that is tender and painful to touch.
The affected vein may be deep within a muscle known as the deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or it can be close to the skin's surface known as superficial thrombophlebitis or superficial venous thrombosis (SVT).
Thrombophlebitis may be brought on by trauma, surgery, or due to a prolonged physical inactivity. Usually, thrombophlebitis involves the superficial veins of the extremities such as the arms and legs. Deep vein thrombosis or DVT can lead to major health issues. Typically, blood-thinning drugs are used to treat this condition.
Symptoms of Thrombophlebitis
Signs and symptoms of superficial venous thrombosis (SVT) include:
- Warmth, sensitivity, and discomfort in the affected area
- A small firm lump below the skin.
- Redness and enlargement of the vein
- Hardening of the vein
- Pain in the limbs
Signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) include:
- Tender vein
- Cramping pain in the affected leg
- Red or darkened skin near the affected area
When to see a doctor?
If you notice a red, swollen, or sore vein consult the doctor straight away, especially if you have one or more thrombophlebitis risk factors.
Visit a doctor if there is extreme leg discomfort, swelling along with chest pain, shortness of breath, bloody coughs, or other signs that may indicate movement of blood clot towards the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Get the best treatment for thrombophlebitis from the best vascular surgeons at Medicover Hospitals.
Causes of Thrombophlebitis
Thrombophlebitis is brought on by a blood clot, which can develop in your blood as a result of:
- Damage to a vein
- A hereditary blood-clotting condition
- Being immobile for an extended period of time, especially during injury or hospitalisation.
Risk Factors of Thrombophlebitis
The chances of developing thrombophlebitis increases in the following conditions:
- Are physically inactive for a long period of time due to bedridden or travelling in a car or on an aeroplane for a long period.
- Having varicose veins, a common factor in the development of superficial thrombophlebitis.
- Either a pacemaker or a thin, flexible tube (catheter) inserted into a vein in the middle of the body to treat a disorder is irritating the blood vessel wall and reducing blood flow.
- Being pregnant or recently given birth.
- Use birth control pills or hormone replacement treatment to prevent blood clotting.
- Have a tendency to clot or a family history of blood clotting issues.
- History of thrombophlebitis
- Over the age of 60
If you have one or more risk factors, talk to the doctor before taking long flights or road journeys, or if you're planning on having an elective operation that will need you to stay immobile for a prolonged period while recovering.
The complications of superficial thrombophlebitis are uncommon. However, if you develop DVT, the risk of thrombophlebitis increases.
Possible complications includes:
If a part of a deep vein clot gets displaced from its position, it can move and clog an artery in the lungs resulting in further health problems.
Post-thrombotic syndrome can occur months or years after a DVT that involves leg discomfort and swelling.
The preventive steps include:
- In case of long trips where you need to sit for many hours at one stretch, try to move your legs while sitting to facilitate blood circulation.
- Be physically active like regularly moving your legs. At least 10 times every hour, flex your ankles or carefully press your feet against the floor or footrest in front of you.
- To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids.
Diagnosis of Thrombophlebitis
The doctor will ask about the medical history and examine symptoms to diagnose thrombophlebitis. The doctor may recommend one of the following tests to identify whether you have superficial thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis:
Ultrasound (USG) scan:
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A naturally occurring chemical called D dimer, which dissolves blood clots, is found in high quantities in the blood in almost every person with a blood clot. But D dimer levels may be increased in other circumstances also. A D dimer test cannot be definitive, but it can point to the need for more testing. Additionally, it can be used to rule out DVT and to locate those who are at high risk of having thrombophlebitis.
Treatment for Thrombophlebitis
The doctor may advise:
- To apply heat to the painful area
- To elevate the affected leg
- Take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDS)
- Wear compression stockings for superficial thrombophlebitis.
Usually, the condition improves on its own.
The doctor may also suggest the following therapies for both types of thrombophlebitis:
For deep vein thrombosis, an anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medicine, such as low molecular weight heparin, fondaparinux, or apixaban, can help prevent enlargement of clots.
During the initial therapy, you will most likely be advised to continue taking warfarin or rivaroxaban for several months to avoid clot formation. Blood thinners have the potential to induce excessive bleeding. Therefore, always follow your doctor's instructions.
Drugs that dissolve clots
Thrombolysis refers to using a medication that can dissolve blood clots. People with widespread DVT, particularly those with a blood clot in the lungs, can take the drug alteplase (Activase) to dissolve clots (pulmonary embolism).
Compression socks assist to minimize swelling and lower the possibility of DVT adverse effects.
In order to prevent blood clots in leg veins from settling in the lungs, a filter may be placed into the main vein in the belly (vena cava). When it is no longer required, the filter is often removed. This is done when a patient is unable to take blood thinners.
Varicose veins stripping
Varicose veins that are causing pain or recurring thrombophlebitis can be surgically removed by a surgeon. A lengthy vein is removed through minor incisions throughout the treatment. The vein removal does not disturb blood circulation since deeper veins in the leg can handle large amounts of blood flow.
Lifestyle changes and self care
Self-care techniques, in addition to medical treatment, can help improve thrombophlebitis. If you have superficial thrombophlebitis, you should:
- Apply heat to the affected area using a warm washcloth several times in a day.
- When sitting or lying down, elevate your legs.
- If the doctor recommends, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID’s) such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium drugs.
- Inform the doctor if you are using any other blood thinners, such as aspirin.
If you have deep vein thrombosis, you should:
- Take prescribed blood-thinning drugs only.
- If your leg is swollen, keep it lifted whether sitting or lying down.
- Wear the prescription compression stockings as instructed.
Dos and Don’ts
Thrombophlebitis is swelling of the vein due to blood clot formation. Its symptoms are pain, tenderness and inflammation. It is mostly found in legs and can disrupt a person's daily activities. Follow thrombophlebitis dos and don’ts to manage related symptoms and infections.
|Stay hydrated to avoid blood thickening.||Sit for too long at one place.|
|Use compression stockings for good circulation.||Follow a sedentary lifestyle|
|Maintain a healthy weight.||Forget to take medications|
|Walk and stretch your legs if you sit for long hours.||Wear clothing that is too tight and restricts blood circulation.|
Thrombophlebitis can be diagnosed by medical examination and certain blood tests. Treatment comprises blood thinning drugs, compression stockings and other medicines. Follow the above tips to prevent its complications.
Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover Hospitals, we have the most trusted team of doctors and medical experts who are experienced in providing excellent healthcare services to patients with compassion and care. Our diagnostic department is equipped with modern healthcare technology and equipment to conduct the tests required for diagnosing the condition. We have an excellent team of vascular surgeons who diagnose and treat this condition with utmost precision and bring successful treatment outcomes.