Blood clots in the leg can be serious conditions that need medical attention immediately. Blood clots can occur after long trips on a plane or in a car where a person is sitting for very extended periods of time. There are some symptoms that suggest a blood clot is present. If you experience these symptoms or have any reason to believe you may have a blood clot in your leg, you should immediately contact your physician.
Signs of Phlebitis
Phlebitis is characterized by the inflammation of the inner lining of a vein coupled with a blood clot. Most frequently, this occurs in the superficial veins of the leg. Symptoms of phlebitis include swelling, pain and redness in the area where the clot is located. There may also be redness along the length of the affected vein.
Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is much more serious than phlebitis. In this condition, a clot has formed in a large vein deep within the body. The danger of this is that the clot can become detached (embolism) and travel to the heart, lungs, or brain. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis include pain, which can be quite severe in the affected leg, swelling, redness and heat in the affected area. In some cases, a purplish tinge can occur.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you have any doubt or think you may have a blood clot, you should contact your physician. Common warning signs of both phlebitis and deep vein thrombosis are pain, redness and swelling in the affected area. If you have severe pain, heat or a purplish tinge to the skin of the leg, seek medical treatment immediately. Do not ignore any signs of possible blood clots. If you are not able to contact your physician immediately, the affected body part should be immobilized and elevated to prevent an embolism from occurring.
Phlebitis is usually treated with warm compresses and mild blood thinners such as aspirin. Deep vein thrombosis is treated by hospitalization, placing the patient on bed rest and usually beginning a course of anti-coagulants, possibly intravenously. It is imperative to dissolve the clot so that no risk remains of it moving and affecting body organs such as the heart or brain.
Often compression stockings are helpful in preventing clots from occurring in the legs. Maintaining a healthy weight also can help. Optimizing leg circulation is key as well. Legs should not be crossed or tucked underneath the body to maximize circulation and not stress the veins. If traveling, be sure to stretch your legs frequently to prevent a clot from forming.