It is easy to brush off strange sensations in your calf or leg, but they can indicate a dangerous condition like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), especially if associated with leg swelling.
This very serious medical problem develops when you have a blood clot in a vein located deep inside your body. While a DVT can impact any deep vein, they are most common in the lower extremity veins, especially near your groin or pelvis. When a DVT develops, there is a risk of developing a Pulmonary Embolus (PE), which can be lethal. More often, however, once the diagnosis is made, blood thinners are used to help stabilize the clot, but even if the DVT is appropriately treated, it often leads to persistent leg swelling, lower extremity pain, achiness and heaviness and over time, can lead to skin discoloration near the ankle. Once you develop a DVT, your lower extremity is never the same.
At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, Dr. Diego Hernandez, brings extensive experience as a board-certified vascular surgeon to treat every single phase of a DVT. After a DVT develops, we can begin blood thinners and ensure that you progress appropriately. In certain instances, we can perform a minimally invasive procedure to clear the clot from your veins, which then helps to avoid the long term consequences associated with a DVT. And, if your DVT happened months to years prior, we can also perform a minimally invasive procedure to ensure that your risk of developing another DVT is reduced and to help decrease the swelling of your lower extremity. We have the only facility in the area that has the ability to perform such minimally invasive procedures in our state of the art office, on an outpatient basis and avoiding the need for a hospital visit.
The risks of blood clots
Although we do not understand all the reasons as to why someone develops a blood clot DVT, we do know that having low flow within the lower extremity veins is an important factor that greatly contributes to the development of a DVT. At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, we have also determined that the anatomy of the veins in our pelvis, plays a major role in why clots develop.
When you have a DVT, the clot keeps your blood from circulating, leading to further vein injury and limited movement. Without treatment, these blood clots can also break loose and travel to your lungs, causing a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). When this occurs, you can experience chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid pulse, or a weak and dizzy sensation.
Not only does a PE impact your breathing, but it can also lead to death. This is why it is important to recognize that there are signs and symptoms that suggest the presence of a DVT, and why seeking medical attention becomes essential if you suspect that you have a blood clot.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of deep vein thrombosis
The most common signs and symptoms of DVT include:
- Swelling, particularly if it only affects one of your lower extremities
- Leg pain or discomfort when sitting, standing or walking
- Red, discolored, or warm skin
Because these signs and symptoms are not always associated with a DVT, it is important to understand that seeking medical attention is your best option if any of these signs are present. The most accurate way of diagnosing a DVT is by performing an ultrasound, as long as the ultrasound is performed at a facility with expertise in vascular diseases.
Being aware of the signs and symptoms associated with a DVT is important, but recognizing that there are certain risk factors that might predispose you to the development of a blood clot, can help lessen that risk. Having these risk factors should increase your awareness and should prompt you to seek medical attention in the setting of any leg symptoms.
Understanding your risks of deep vein thrombosis
Your chances of developing DVT are higher if you have:
- A family history of the condition
- A pregnancy or recent delivery
- Prolonged bed rest or lack of activity
- Broken bones, major surgery, or severe muscle injuries
- Blood-clotting disorders
- Certain conditions, like heart failure, inflammatory bowel diseases, or cancer
- A previous history of a DVT, even if it happened on the other lower extremity
Other factors that increase your chances of deep vein thrombosis include being over 60, being overweight, and using oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.
To protect your vascular health and reduce your risk of having DVT, you should avoid smoking, understand your risks, and adopt an active lifestyle.
Because developing a DVT can have such profound effects on your health, being tested for the anatomical conditions that may predispose you to forming a DVT, and having an evaluation by a physician with experience in the treatment of DVTs, can go a long way to lessen your risk. At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, we are able to evaluate your risk and provide you with options to avoid a DVT.
Treating deep vein thrombosis
Fortunately, once diagnosed, DVT is a highly treatable condition. Deep vein thrombosis treatments typically focus on:
Based on your unique case, we might recommend a variety of therapies. These often range from blood-thinning medications and compression stockings to treatments that correct anatomical issues or physically remove the clot. Our vast experience in treating patients who have developed a DVT, allows us to determine what is the best option for you. Whereas in the past, DVTs were only treated with blood thinners, we now have the ability to perform minimally invasive procedures that help to improve flow and reduce the possibility of developing another DVT. However, these are procedures that require expertise and experience, and not every physician is in a position to advise you on these matters. The treatment of complex vein disease, including the treatment of blood clots DVTs, has become our passion at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, and it is what sets us apart as leaders in the care of vein conditions.
If you have a history of a DVT, or if you are experiencing persistent leg swelling and are not satisfied with the answers that you have received from other physicians, let us evaluate you. We have an accredited vascular ultrasound department with Registered Vascular Technicians (RVTs) that are experienced in helping to diagnose the cause of your leg swelling or confirm the presence of a DVT. And our practitioners have years of experience in the management of this condition. Don’t let anyone tell you that blood thinners are the only option to treat your DVT, or that there are no options to treat your leg swelling or pain that has developed as a result of a DVT.
Let the staff at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular show you what sets us apart in the care of your DVT or any other vein condition, Contact us today.