Superficial Thrombophlebitis: Causes & Symptoms
The cause of superficial thrombophlebitis is not known. There are several theories which include:
1) A clot in the leg veins or arteries (venous thromboembolism).
2) An infection in the legs (hemorrhagic syndrome).
3) Infection in other parts of body such as lungs, liver, kidneys, brain etc.
(infectious thrombocytopenic purpura).
4) Diabetes mellitus.
5) Radiation therapy (radiotherapy).
Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis may vary from mild pain in the legs to severe pain in the chest, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and even death. The most common symptom is weakness and fatigue in the legs.
Other symptoms include swelling, redness, warmth and tenderness at site of injection. Sometimes there is pain when moving the arm or leg. Other symptoms may occur only after injection. Some people have no symptoms at all.
What Is Superficial Thrombophlebitis?
Superficial thrombophlebitis occurs when blood clots form in the veins and arteries of your legs instead of going into your heart. When these clots block the flow of blood through those vessels, they can cause a stroke or heart attack in some cases. While superficial thrombophlebitis is most commonly caused by an injection into the vein, you can also get it from sitting or standing for long periods of time with your legs crossed.
While this condition isn’t common, it can happen to people who inject drugs (such as morphine or heroin). It can also happen to people who have superficial thrombophlebitis .
In some cases, superficial thrombophlebitis can cause inflammation in the veins of the leg. This condition is often called phlebitis superficialis.
Who Gets Superficial Thrombophlebitis?
Anyone who has a blood clot that gets stuck in a vein is at risk of getting this condition. It’s most likely to occur in people who have recently had surgery or who have problems with their immune system. Women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy drugs are at increased risk of getting this condition as well. This condition can also occur in younger people who have conditions such as an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
What Are the Symptoms of Superficial Thrombophlebitis?
The majority of the time, superficial thrombophlebitis causes a painless but very noticeable swelling in the area of your leg where the blood clot first occurred. This swelling is usually tender to the touch, and it can become red and warm. In some cases, superficial thrombophlebitis may lead to extremely painful muscle spasms.
How Is Superficial Thrombophlebitis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and take a detailed family history. He or she will also perform a physical examination. During the examination, your doctor may elicit pain by pressing on the swollen area. Since superficial thrombophlebitis is caused by a blood clot, your doctor will also order a blood test to check for increased amounts of fibrinogen, D-dimer and prothrombin.
How Is Superficial Thrombophlebitis Treated?
Superficial thrombophlebitis is often treated with anticoagulants (drugs that prevent blood from clotting). These drugs include low-molecular-weight heparin, unfractionated heparin, warfarin (Coumadin) and aspirin. Your doctor may also suggest that you wear compression stockings to prevent the blood clots from recurring. However, superficial thrombophlebitis may not improve with drug treatment and may sometimes require surgery to remove the blood clot.
How Can I Prevent Superficial Thrombophlebitis?
Since superficial thrombophlebitis is often caused by extended periods of inactivity, your doctor may suggest that you take frequent breaks while sitting or standing. You should also make sure to move your legs around and straighten your ankles while you’re sitting or standing. If you take a long car ride, you should make sure to stop and walk around at regular intervals. You should also try to avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time.
If you are immobile for a long time, such as when you’re bedridden or hospitalized, ask your doctor if you need to be put on blood thinners.
Sources & references used in this article:
Treatment for superficial thrombophlebitis of the leg by M Di Nisio, IM Wichers… – Cochrane Database of …, 2018 – cochranelibrary.com
Superficial thrombophlebitis diagnosed by duplex scanning. by KS Lutter, TM Kerr, LR Roedersheimer, JM Lohr… – Surgery, 1991 – europepmc.org
Superficial thrombophlebitis of the legs: a randomized, controlled, follow-up study by G Belcaro, AN Nicolaides, BM Errichi… – …, 1999 – journals.sagepub.com
Superficial thrombophlebitis of lower limbs by EA Husni, WA Williams – Surgery, 1982 – surgjournal.com
Superficial thrombophlebitis II. Secondary hypercoagulable states by CP Samlaska, WD James – Journal of the American Academy of …, 1990 – Elsevier
Superficial thrombophlebitis and deep vein thrombosis: a controversial association by H Bounameaux, MA Reber-Wasem – Archives of internal …, 1997 – jamanetwork.com
The incidence of deep venous thrombosis in patients with superficial thrombophlebitis of the lower limbs by JO Jorgensen, KC Hanel, AM Morgan… – Journal of vascular surgery, 1993 – Elsevier