When a person suffers with a leg pain blood clot it is hard to know how much damage can occur if it is not caught early enough and given proper medical treatment. In fact, sometimes a leg pain blood clot can strike with little warning or no warning at all. It is important to understand the causes, risk factors, and treatments available so that a person with this condition can make intelligent healthcare decisions.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) results from damage to the inside wall of a blood vessel due to trauma or other medical conditions, or changes in normal blood flow. It can also result from a condition called Hypercoagulability, which is a highly unusual condition that causes blood to clot more than it normally does.
The risk factors for developing DVT include prolonged sitting in a car or plane; long bed rest during illnesses or recovery; recent orthopedic surgery, gynecologic surgery, or heart surgery; recent trauma to the lower portion of the body, obesity, recent childbirth; heart attack or heart failure; or cancer. Hormone therapy can also be a factor, such as higher dosages of estrogen.
The condition is treated depending on each individual case, especially for clots located in the lower legs. Usually doctors prefer to observe the clot via ultrasound to note any increase in size or movement of the clot. In some case low dosage heparin injections, an anti-coagulant will be used to immediately stop any more clots from developing while warfarin taken orally may be used to reduce the clots present. Once new clots are stopped completely the heparin is stopped.
Doctors prescribe compression stockings to patients who are diagnosed with DVT to be worn for at least a year to prevent more clots from developing.
The symptoms one may notice with leg pain blood clots may include swelling, gradual onset of pain, redness and warmth to the skin, increased pain when flexing the foot, night-time leg cramps, and discoloration of the skin that is bluish or whitish. Granted, nearly 30% of patients diagnosed with DVT never show symptoms at all.
Avoiding or reversing risk factors that tend to lead to leg pain blood clots is the key to prevention:
- If one is obese or has recently gained weight, then weight loss is important
- If one is taking a trip on a plane, use opportunities to get up and move about. For car trips, take frequent rest stops and stretch out and walk about for a few minutes
- When relaxing at home in a chair or in bed it is a good idea to keep the legs elevated
- If you are using hormone therapy, such as estrogen, be sure to go in for your tests to assure the dosage is correct for your individual needs and follow your dosage closely.
If you have had recent surgery, your doctor may keep you immobilized during recovery. You should be careful to follow the directions precisely and use whatever instructions or devises your doctor elects to use to help prevent blood clots:
- If you are advised to get out of bed frequently, set up a schedule to get up at regular intervals.
- Your doctor may use a Sequential Compression Device (SCD) that mechanically squeezes the legs to prevent the development of clots. The machine may be on a timer and it will do the job for you as you rest and recover.
- Your doctor will most likely provide a prescription for heparin to help reduce the possibility of developing clots as you remain immobile during recovery. Take as prescribed. If injectable, your doctor will teach you or your caregiver how to inject it properly.