What is Phlebitis?

Thrombophlebitis (phlebitis) occurs when a vein becomes inflamed or a blood clot causes swelling in one or more of your veins. This condition most commonly occurs in the legs. It can, however, also occur in any vein in your body. If a superficial vein is affected, this is called Superficial Thrombophlebitis. If a deep vein is involved, this is called a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Superficial clots infrequently travel to the lungs (causing a Pulmonary Embolism). They more typically cause localized pain and swelling. Untreated, superficial clots can move into the deep veins. A clot in a deep vein can cause significant damage, the most significant being a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal complication.

Thrombophlebitis can be caused by prolonged inactivity. This condition may result from sitting for long periods of time in an airplane or automobile. It may also occur after a lengthy bed rest after surgery. Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis generally include pain, swelling and redness along the affected vein. It may be accompanied with fever. There is often a visible or palpable “cord” along the length of the affected vein.

DVT is a true medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may include:

  • Leg swelling or arm swelling
  • Calf pain
  • Severe chest pain or shortness of breath may signify a blood clot that has broken free and travelled to your lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • There may not be any symptoms

Our Boulder vein clinic has vein therapy that can help with this condition.

How Do Blood Clots Form?

There are many reasons for forming blood clots. The risk of abnormal clotting increases with the number of predisposing risk factors:

  • Prolonged inactivity (i.e., airplane or car travel, bedrest after surgery or hospitalization)
  • Various cancers
  • Varicose veins
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills (OCP)
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
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