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 and varicose veins. 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, health-care professionals would try to elicit a couple of clinical findings to make a diagnosis of a DVT in the leg. 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. Now, health-care professionals don't usually rely upon whether these signs are present to make the diagnosis or decide that a DVT does not exist.

Return to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

See what others are saying

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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Comment from: Liz, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 21

I am in so much pain on my right knee and below my back thigh down to my leg since November. It's so painful getting out of the couch or chair after sitting for 5 minutes. I can't walk, stand or sit for more than 5 minutes. I also have a pinched nerve on my neck. My left leg is weak and I have trouble walking so I used more of my right leg or feet. My insurance had lapsed so I don't have insurance (January and February) but I am now enrolled in Medicare and my coverage starts in March. I am concerned because they don't a have diagnosis as to why I can't walk but 10 steps on my left leg. Now my neck, arms and shoulder are painful all the way to my right arm and my fingers. Now my right knee is so painful but I'm afraid after all the tests they said they couldn't find anything. There is no swelling or redness but I get so tired all the time. I am really worried about deep vein thrombosis and can't wait to see a doctor In March.

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