You may have been hearing about blood clots lately in the news related to some COVID vaccine shot side effects. While this is rare, if you are prone to clotting or already have a blood clot, this is a dangerous side effect. Blood clots can form for a multitude of other health reasons as well. Learn how to tell if you might have the early signs of DVT or blood clotting. The Vein Centre surgeons are here to help if you live near Belle Meade, Franklin, or Mt. Juliet, TN.
What is DVT Blood Clotting?
DVT stands for deep vein thrombosis. Your body has superficial and deep vein systems, both of which could experience clotting. Blood clots are a natural body function that stops bleeding after a cut or other injury. These clots are gel-like clumps of blood particles. Platelets and fibrin, protein strands, work together to adhere to a blood vessel or artery and block blood flow in that area. Clotting is a life-saving function after an injury, but if unnecessary clotting occurs if then becomes dangerous.
Types of Blood Clots
When a clot forms inside deep veins and arteries, that is the beginning of a potentially serious health concern. When a clot forms blood vessels and stays in place, it is called a thrombus. A thrombus can cut off blood flow to organs and tissue if it grows too large. Blocked blood flow can cause heart attacks, stroke, and death. If this occurs, emergency medical care is needed quickly.
Another type of dangerous blood clot is called an embolus. An embolus is a blood clot that comes loose from the vein wall. When this blood clot breaks free, it travels through the bloodstream. As it reaches smaller vessels, it can become lodged and block flow to that area. It can travel to the lungs, heart, or brain, causing pulmonary embolism and stroke. If you are experiencing these signs of DVT below, contact your doctor immediately.
Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis
1) Swelling in Your Legs
Swelling is possible in the exact place a blood clot has formed. In some cases, the entire extremity affected will swell up, but more commonly, the leg will is below the knee. The swelling won’t be in both your legs, only the side where there is a blood clot.
Swelling can even occur after DVT treatment. Post-thrombotic syndrome develops weeks or months after DVT and causes chronic swelling in the leg. This happens because DVT damages veins and valves, causing them to become weak. Weak veins and valves allow blood to pool in your legs resulting in pain and swelling.
DVT causes redness in your arms and legs because blood vessels are blocked. The red color is a result of inflammation of the vein where there are one or more blood clots and can be one of the signs of DVT. You may notice a long, thin area of redness following the affected vein.
3) Leg Pain
Blood clots cause internal pain in the veins affected. As a clot worsens, you may experience discomfort and soreness in the area. The pain can range from a dull ache to intense throbbing pain. Pain in one leg or arm and not the other is a warning sign of DVT. Discomfort often increases with walking or standing for an extended period. Many people mistake this feeling for a pulled muscle, but leg pain from DVT will not go away with time as a muscle injury does.
Feeling a warm sensation is one of the first symptoms of deep vein thrombosis. Your whole body won’t feel warm, only the affected limb. Only one leg will feel warm, or you will feel warmth radiating from one limb and not the other. Sometimes, only the area right above the blocked vein will be noticeably warmer.
5) Leg Cramps
Leg cramps are a common occurrence that most of us have felt before. Regular muscle cramps will go away pretty quickly by stretching or walking. Crampy feelings in the legs that won’t go away or worsen over time are symptoms of DVT. Cramping caused by DVT needs medical attention before it becomes dangerous. One test to see if you are experiencing a normal leg cramp or one from deep vein thrombosis is to bend the foot at the ankle so that your toes are pointing upward. With a normal cramp, this should alleviate pain. In the case of a blood clot, the pain will most likely intensify.
6) Skin Discoloration
Besides just turning limbs red, DVT can cause problematic skin discoloration and symptoms. Blood clots create high-pressure areas where veins are blocked. As blood cells try and pass through the high-pressure area, the cells are often damaged and proceed to break down. Hyperpigmentation occurs, and your skin can become dry, flaky, or itchy. Advanced cases of DVT without treatment are likely to develop eczema and skin ulcers in the affected area.
How to Treat and Prevent DVT
Many of the symptoms of DVT are the same symptoms as other conditions. It is best to seek medical attention and receive screening for blood clots if you are unsure. Deep vein thrombosis blood clots are dangerous and are a medical emergency waiting to happen.
DVT is treatable in several ways, depending on the severity. If you are high risk but haven’t developed clots yet, compression stockings will prevent swelling and reduce your chances of developing blood clots.
Medications help prevent blood from clotting in the first place, and some break up blood clots. The medications Coumadin, Lovenox, and Arixtra thin your blood making it harder for clots to form. Any existing clots won’t increase in size. In more severe cases, intravenous thrombolytic drugs break up existing blood clots.
Filters are another way to protect yourself from a dislodged blood clot. A filter is put inside the vena cava, a large abdominal vein, to stop a clot from making its way to your lungs.
Contact a Vein Doctor
If you are experiencing leg swelling, skin discoloration, redness, cramping, warmth, and pain, you may have DVT. Give the Vein Centre in Tennessee a call at 615.269.9007. Please schedule an appointment with our board-certified vascular surgeons in Belle Meade (Nashville), Franklin (Cool Springs/Brentwood), and Mt. Juliet, TN, as soon as possible. Blood clots are dangerous, and it is better to err on the side of caution if you are experiencing signs of DVT.