What are blood clots?
There are many veins in the body that carry blood to and from the heart to the rest of the body. There is a superficial set, which is located right beneath the skin surface, and a deeper set which is not visible to the eyes. When the superficial ones become enlarged or clotted, you can see them as varicose veins. Leg blood clots are referred to as thrombosis, and the deep ones are called deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
Phlebitis is inflammation of the of the veins. This brings about redness, pain, and swelling, especially behind the knee. Blood clots can occur because of certain risk factors such as use of birth control pills, obesity, smoking, cancers, recent surgerys, being immobile, sitting for long periods, and injury are among some predilecting factors that can cause a clot.
How to diagnosis a blood clot?
First and foremost, your doctor will clinically diagnose the blood clot. Typical symptoms are pain with palpation behind the calf, unilateral swelling and redness may happen, pain and difficulty with walking and lastly, warmth to the leg may also occur. You may feel better with rest and elevating the leg.
If your doctor is suspicious of a blood clot, he will send you for further workup immediately. The quicker you diagnose a blood clot, the better your prognosis is. Your doctor may order xrays on you to make sure nothing else is going on, such as fractures or dislocations. He may then send you to get an ultrasound of your veins. An ultrasound is a noninvasive procedure that helps visualize the veins and detect any clots if they are present. If that comes back negative for a DVT, then you’re doctor may send you for an MRI or additional testing to find out exactly what the cause of the pain and swelling is.
How to treat a blood clot?
Blood clots can lead to life threatening pulmonary embolisms which can cause death. Most patients with DVTs require hospitalization to receive IV medication to help break up the clot or a blood thinner. The blood thinner could long term be prescribed to you by your doctor, situation and patient dependent. Surgically, a filter can be placed in the vein to prevent clots from happening again. Patients are typically recommended compression socks for long term use once they have had a a history of a clot.
If you have pain in your calf or swelling and redness, make sure you see your doctor immediately. Call us at (813) 875-0555.