Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of a vein close to the surface of the skin. It occurs most often in the leg. The condition is easily treatable, though it sometimes leads to more serious health concerns.
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Superficial thrombophlebitis is caused by a blood clot in a vein that is close to the surface of the skin.
Factors that increase your chance of developing superficial thrombophlebitis include:
Superficial thrombophlebitis may cause:
- A very visible, cord-like vein that is tender and sensitive to pressure. This visibility may develop over several hours to days.
- Redness and warmth surrounding the vein.
- Swelling around the vein.
A complication of superficial thrombophlebitis is a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot in the deeper veins that causes obstruction of blood flow. This can lead to pulmonary embolism , a serious situation that occurs when the blood clot breaks free and gets lodged in the lungs.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include the following:
- X-ray or ultrasound to check for deeper blood clots
- Venogram in which dye or contrast is injected
- Screening for blood disorders with recurrent episodes of phlebitis
In most cases, superficial thrombophlebitis goes away on its own after a few weeks. Treatment can be done at home with the following:
- Oral or topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Compression stockings
- Warm compress on the inflamed vein
In some cases, the following treatment may be needed:
- Blood thinning medication
- Procedures to remove the blood clot
To help reduce your chances of superficial thrombophlebitis, take these steps:
- If you fly for long periods of time, walk around the cabin and stretch your limbs every hour or so.
- If you drive for long periods of time, pull over every hour or so and stretch your limbs.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing around your waist.
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Reviewed: 08/2013
- Updated: 05/04/2015
Please note, not all procedures included in this resource library are available at Allegiance Health or performed by Allegiance Health physicians.
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