What is superficial thrombophlebitis?
Superficial thrombophlebitis is an inflammatory condition of the veins due to a blood clot just below the surface of the skin. It usually occurs in the legs, but it can occasionally occur in the arms and neck. Anyone can develop superficial thrombophlebitis, but females are affected more than males.
What are the symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis?
Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include:
-Redness and inflammation of the skin along a vein
-Warmth of the skin and tissue around the vein
-Tenderness and pain that worsens with added pressure
-Pain in the limb
-Darkening of the skin over the vein
-Hardening of the vein
If the above symptoms appear or get worse, or you develop new symptoms such as fever and chills. This could be a sign of a more serious illness or condition.
Who develops superficial thrombophlebitis?
Several factors increase the risk of developing superficial thrombophlebitis. The more common risk factors include:
-Recent IV, catheter, or injection into a vein
-Sitting or lying down for too long, such as on a long flight
-Disorders that increase blood clotting
-Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement medications
-Chemical irritation, such as from cancer treatments
-A stroke or injury that caused paralysis of the arms or legs
Superficial thrombophlebitis is also associated with more serious medical conditions, including:
-Deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a deep vein
-Cancers of the abdomen, such as pancreatic cancer
-Factor V Leiden, a genetic blood clotting disorder
-Prothrombin gene mutation, a gene mutation that causes a blood clotting disorder
-Thromboangiitis obliterans, a blockage of the blood vessels in the hands and feet
Several very rare conditions can also lead to the development of superficial thrombophlebitis:
-Antithrombin III (AT-III) deficiency
-Protein C deficiency
-Protein S deficiency
Doctor might prescribe treat or perform the following surgery.
-For superficial thrombophlebitis, your doctor might recommend applying heat to the painful area, elevating the affected leg, using an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and possibly wearing compression stockings. The condition usually improves on its own.
-Blood-thinning medications. If you have deep vein thrombosis, injection of a blood-thinning (anticoagulant) medication, such as low molecular weight heparin or fondaparinux (Arixtra), will prevent clots from enlarging. After the initial treatment, taking the oral anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, others) or the newer rivaroxaban (Xarelto) for several months continues to prevent clots from enlarging.
-Clot-dissolving medications. Treatment with medications such as alteplase (Activase) dissolves blood clots. Also known as thrombolysis, this treatment is used for extensive DVT, including some cases that involve a blood clot in the lungs (pulmonary embolus).
-Compression stockings. Prescription-strength compression stockings help prevent swelling and reduce the chances of complications of DVT.
Filter. In some instances, especially if you can’t take blood thinners, a filter can be inserted into the main vein in your abdomen (vena cava) to prevent clots that break loose in leg veins from lodging in your lungs. Usually, the filter is removed when it’s no longer needed. If you have a filter placed, ask your doctor if and when it should be removed.
-Varicose vein stripping. Your doctor can surgically remove varicose veins that cause pain or recurrent thrombophlebitis in this procedure. It involves removing a long vein through small incisions. Removing the vein won’t affect circulation in your leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the increased volumes of blood.