What is Superficial Thrombophlebitis?

What is Superficial Thrombophlebitis?

Superficial thrombophlebitis is a blood clot (thrombus) in a vein just below the skin surface. This condition most often affects the large veins of your legs, groin, or arm. Superficial venous thrombosis usually occurs without any underlying disease and rarely causes complications.

It’s typically treated with medications that thin your blood to prevent further clotting and promote faster healing. In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the clot from a compromised vein so it can’t reoccur.

Superficial thrombophlebitis is also known as superficial phlebothrombosis, superficial thromboembolism, superficial vein thrombosis, and superficial venous thrombosis.

What are the Causes of Superficial Thrombophlebitis?

Superficial thrombophlebitis is usually due to an injury to or irritation of a vein that may be caused by:

You’re also at risk for developing superficial thrombophlebitis if you have certain autoimmune disorders, such as lupus. Other risk factors include:

Superficial phlebothrombosis has also been associated with varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It’s not clear whether superficial venous thrombosis occurs before or after DVT in some people. Pregnancy can increase your risk of developing superficial thrombophlebitis.

What are the symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis? The main symptom of superficial thrombophlebitis is pain or tenderness in one or more legs, groin, or arm veins.

Other symptoms may include:

Superficial phlebothrombosis can occur with little to no symptoms. It’s possible for people to have it and not be aware of the condition. It’s important to take any leg pain seriously. This is especially true if you’re at risk for blood clots due to surgery, an inherited clotting disorder, recent trauma, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, obesity, smoking, past DVT (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs), or prolonged bed rest.

What are the risks and complications?

As with any blood clot, there’s a risk of permanent damage to your leg, such as ulceration (a break in the skin). The damaged area may become infected and need antibiotics.

There’s also a risk that a piece of the clot may break off and travel through your bloodstream to lodge in an artery in your lungs, heart, brain, or another vital organ. This life-threatening situation is known as a pulmonary embolism.

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A clot may also block a vein from having enough blood flow at times when it needs more oxygenated blood flowing to it, such as during exercise or when you have limited mobility. In these cases, the tissue may die, resulting in ulceration.

Superficial thrombophlebitis treatment:

I got this question from one of my readers yesterday. What is the treatment for superficial thrombophlebitis? I am scheduled to have a pelvic sonogram tomorrow and I was wondering if I should reschedule it because of thrombophlebitis. So what are your opinions on this?

Superficial Thrombophlebitis (STP) or phlebitis, as it’s commonly called, has gotten a bad rap in recent years because many physicians automatically assume that anyone who has pain over the site of a vein (even without evident infection or inflammation), must have something more sinister than just superficial clots.

There are certain risks associated with having any degree of real clotting in a vein, but you can see from the list below that many things cause phlebitis or superficial thrombophlebitis.

Thrombophlebitis vs thrombosis:

Thrombophlebitis is different than thrombosis. Thrombophlebitis is the formation of a clot in the wall of the vein, which occurs when there’s inflammation within or around the vein walls.

A thrombus (clot) is formed against this background of inflammation and generally causes more severe issues with flow through that vessel than does phlebitis – which can lead to localized scar tissue but doesn’t cause an abnormal impairment to blood flow.

The reason there’s so much confusion between these two conditions is that any real clot in a vein forms under very similar circumstances (some sort of inflammation), and most times they’ll occur at the same site (in the deeper veins of the leg).

Infection, trauma to the site from a medical or surgical procedure, and certain medications are the most common causes for thrombophlebitis. In women, hormonal influences during pregnancy can predispose one to clot in veins in general – this is why it’s absolutely normal to have increased episodes of phlebitis during pregnancy.

It has nothing to do with a pregnant woman’s veins being “weaker,” but rather that there’s a greater degree of inflammation in one’s circulation in general which can lead to any number of complications (which may be why some women develop varicose veins).

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is superficial thrombophlebitis dangerous:

First of all, I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but superficial thrombophlebitis is generally considered to be a much less serious condition than deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – the clotting that occurs in large veins after injury or surgery.

However, there are some risks associated with having any degree of real clotting in a vein. Superficial clots may not be as severe as those that occur deeper into the leg itself, but you can see from the list below that many things cause phlebitis or superficial thrombophlebitis. These conditions have been known to cause embolism and death if they break off and migrate through smaller vessels to the lungs.

Any clot in a vein can eventually lead to serious conditions – high blood pressure in the veins of the legs, ulcers, rupture of veins when too much strain is placed on them (which may or may not be accompanied by pain), and even gangrene.

Is superficial thrombophlebitis dangerous? Treatment for Superficial Thrombophlebitis:

The best way to treat superficial thrombophlebitis is with rest and elevation. The fewer activities you perform which exert pressure on your lower extremities, the better off you’ll be until this resolves.

This includes walking and standing for prolonged periods – if possible at all. You should try sleeping with your legs propped up higher than your head with pillows, and that should help with any swelling.

If you’re having issues walking due to pain, I would use crutches (or knee walkers/scooters) until the inflammation dies down if possible. You can also try placing ice packs on your legs for 15-20 minutes at a time over the first 24 hours to reduce any inflammation (which slows blood flow).

Superficial vein thrombosis treatment guidelines:

First of all, I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but superficial thrombophlebitis is generally considered to be a much less serious condition than deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – the clotting that occurs in large veins after injury or surgery.

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However, there are some risks associated with having any degree of real clotting in a vein. Superficial clots may not be as severe as those that occur deeper into the leg itself, but you can see from the list below that many things cause phlebitis or superficial thrombophlebitis. These conditions have been known to cause embolism and death if they break off and migrate through vessels to the lungs.

Thrombophlebitis treatment antibiotics:

Any clot in a vein can eventually lead to serious conditions – high blood pressure in the veins of the legs, ulcers, rupture of veins when too much strain is placed on them (which may or may not be accompanied by pain), and even gangrene.

The best way to treat superficial thrombophlebitis is with rest and elevation. The fewer activities you perform which exert pressure on your lower extremities, the better off you’ll be until this resolves. This includes walking and standing for prolonged periods – if possible at all. You should try sleeping with your legs propped up higher than your head with pillows, and that should help with any swelling.

If you’re having issues due to pain, I would use crutches (or knee walkers/scooters) until the inflammation dies down if possible. You can also try placing ice packs on your legs for 15-20 minutes at a time over the first 24 hours to reduce any inflammation (which slows blood flow).

Thrombophlebitis treatment cream:

First of all, I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but superficial thrombophlebitis is generally considered to be a much less serious condition than deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – the clotting that occurs in large veins after injury or surgery. However, there are some risks associated with having any degree of real clotting in a vein.

Superficial clots may not be as severe as those that occur deeper into the leg itself, but you can see from the list below that many things cause phlebitis or superficial thrombophlebitis. These conditions have been known to cause embolism and death if they break off and migrate through vessels to the lungs.

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