Leg Pain: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment for Deep Vein Thrombosis

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
December 16, 2020

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins inside the body, usually in the leg or legs. This can occur any time a medical condition or some other factor prevents the blood from circulating through the body properly, such as prolonged immobility or injury to a vein. A blood clot in the deep veins is a serious concern because it can cause life-threatening complications, one of the most notable being pulmonary embolism. Diagnosis and treatment of a DVT are meant to prevent a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.

Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Blood is meant to flow freely through the body, and if it moves too slowly through the veins or becomes stagnant, a clump of blood cells called a clot may form. There are several situations in which dangerous clotting can occur in a vein deep inside the body. For instance, limited movement due to surgery, obesity, prolonged travel, bed rest or hospitalization; a clotting condition; injury to a vein; pregnancy; and other serious health issues like cancer or heart disease can all increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. 

If you are at high-risk for deep vein thrombosis, there are certain steps you can take to lower your odds of a DVT. You can get regular checkups, maintain a healthy weight, drink plenty of water, and exercise more. You can also avoid sitting for too long on flights or long car rides and, if you are having surgery, you can make a plan for your after-care to prevent DVT. 

DVT Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose deep vein thrombosis using special tests designed to detect blood clots or blockages in the veins. Duplex ultrasonography is one common example of an imaging test that can be used to diagnose DVT. This test uses sound waves to look at the flow of blood through the patient’s veins. Another tool doctors can use to diagnose deep vein thrombosis is a D-dimer test. Blood clots typically start to break down after they are formed, releasing a protein fragment into the blood called D-dimer. A D-dimer test is a special blood test that can be used to rule out a harmful blood clot.

Deep Vein Thrombosis Symptoms

In some cases, patients experiencing a deep vein thrombosis may not find out about the condition until they have undergone emergency treatment for a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a DVT clot breaks loose and moves from the leg into the lungs. A small pulmonary embolism may cause no symptoms, but a large embolism can be fatal. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms of a DVT. Some common deep vein thrombosis symptoms include the following:

  • Severe, unexplained pain in the foot and ankle
  • Swelling in the foot, ankle, or leg
  • Cramping pain in the leg, usually beginning in the calf
  • The skin over the affected area becoming pale or turning a reddish or bluish color

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment

The main goal of deep vein thrombosis treatment is to prevent a clot from becoming lodged in the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. Patients with a DVT typically take blood thinner medications, or anticoagulants, to reduce the blood’s ability to clot. For some patients, anticoagulant therapy is not appropriate or successful, in which case treatment with an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter maybe considered. Other DVT patients benefit from using compression stockings, which are designed to squeeze blood up the legs to prevent swelling and blood clots.

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious condition. We are dedicated to providing the highest level of vascular care to the residents of the Southern San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas. If you have concerns about developing this condition, call (559) 625-4118 or visit South Valley Vascular online to schedule an appointment today.