Deep Vein Thrombosis - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Superficial thrombophlebitis symptoms

Blood clots in the superficial vein system most often occur due to trauma to the vein which causes a small blood clot to form. Inflammation of the vein and surrounding skin causes the symptoms of any other type of inflammation including:

  • redness,
  • warmth,
  • tenderness, and
  • swelling.

Often the affected vein can be palpated (felt) as a firm, thickened cord. There may be inflammation that follows the course of part of the vein.

Although there is inflammation, there is no infection.

Varicosities can predispose to superficial thrombophlebitis. This occurs when the valves of the larger veins in the superficial system fail (the greater and lesser saphenous veins), allowing blood to back up and cause the veins to swell and become distorted or tortuous. The valves fail when veins lose their elasticity and stretch. This can be due to age, prolonged standing, obesity, pregnancy, and genetic factors.

Deep venous thrombosis symptoms

The symptoms of deep vein thrombosis are related to obstruction of blood returning to the heart and causing a backup of blood in the leg. Classically, symptoms include:

  • pain,
  • swelling,
  • warmth, and
  • redness.

Not all of these symptoms have to occur. One, all, or none may be present with a deep vein thrombosis. The symptoms may mimic an infection or cellulitis of the leg.

Historically, healthcare professionals would try to elicit a couple of clinical findings to make a diagnosis. Dorsiflexion of the foot (pulling the toes towards the nose, or Homans' sign) and Pratt's sign (squeezing the calf to produce pain), have not been found effective in making a diagnosis.

Return to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

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Comment from: johnny c., 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: August 18

When 61 years of age I had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my right leg. The leg was red and had an abnormal full or stuffed feeling. I went to the doctor and he said it was an infection and gave me some medicine for infection. Two days later the pain was getting worse. I bought a medical book and found that it might be DVT. I went to the same doctor the following day. He said it was getting better and to wait a few days and it would clear up. As he was leaving the room I asked if it could possibly be a DVT. He stopped, felt the leg, left the room and 30 minutes later a nurse came in, took me to x-ray then admitted me into the hospital where another doctor appeared about an hour later saying I had DVT. He said a portion of the clot had already broken off and had entered the lung. He had given me thinner by this time and said that I could possibly die that night but if I didn't it would get better in the morning which it did. Two years later after a 5 hour car trip, another DVT in the same leg. I went to the hospital for 3 or 4 days and then went home. I learned not to stay seated so long. Two years later while looking at the TV monitor a red keyhole-shaped object appeared in my right eye. I thought an insect had landed on my glasses and attempted to brush it away, but found my glasses were not on. It was a broken vein and red blood entered my right eye causing a 'dust storm' in my eye for the next two years. About 8 months later I was driving at night, and seeing a car I thought it had a red light on it. My left eye was bleeding now. My eye doctor never snapped on that something was wrong and didn't offer any cause for the bleeding. Finally a doctor was curious enough to send me to a hematologist; he found I had a blood condition called Factor V Leiden that I had inherited. It had caused all the clotting that I had had. The eyes had veins that ruptured from clotting and then leaked. My doctor prescribed Coumadin and I have been clot free until this time and now am 80 years of age. This is about 12 years of Coumadin that I have taken. I am amazed that no doctor that treated me during this clotting time ever had the interest to go further with a cause study. I have since found that most doctors don't know what Factor V Leiden is. Upon finding the cause of my clotting, I notified my four children and my siblings to get tested for this problem. I don't know how many did, however my oldest son has it and one of my nieces also has the condition. Looking back, my father had the same bleeding in his eyes while he was in his seventies. Knowing what the cause of my problem has allowed me to watch for the signs of DVT and to avoid sitting for a long time while traveling. My right leg has never been the same, I have lost sight in both eyes as a result of the eye doctor lasering the retina veins that clotted and leaked blood. I hope this helps someone out there be more aware of this problem.

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Comment from: GeekLady, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 21

I had the first occurrence of deep vein thrombosis in 2011. One leg was swollen, reddish, and there was a lot of pain. One foot was swollen so much there were few shoes I could wear.

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