Blood Clots in the Leg Diagnosis and Treatment
There are two types of veins in the legs. Superficial veins, which usually can be seen thru the skin and deep veins that are located deep inside the muscles of the legs. Arteries have thin muscles within their walls that withstand pressure caused by the heart pumping blood to all areas of the body. Veins are thinner and do not offer much protection. Veins move blood back to the heart only when muscles are constricted thru exercise. Blood is meant to flow, when it becomes stagnant thru inactivity blood clots can form. The blood in the veins are always forming microscopic clots that are usually broken down naturally by the body.
A large blood clot can form because of the following situations. Immobility because of sitting for long periods of time like taking a long plane flight or car or train ride and being hospitalized and having to be in bed for a prolonged period. Trauma to the leg such as a fracture or heavy bruising is another cause. Hypercoagulability (coagulation of blood faster than normal can also cause blood clots. This can occur because of medications, smoking, Polycythenia (increased number of red blood cells) and also cancer.
When a blood clot has occurred it can be felt as firm and cordlike. The surrounding skin will become red, warm, irritated and there will be swelling. When symptoms occur it will require good clinical skill by your care provider to diagnose. If there is chest pain or shortness of breath there is great concern that a Pulmonary Embolism exists.
Ultrasound is the standard way of diagnosing a blood clot. The ultra sound technician should be able to determine if a blood clot exists, where it is in the leg and how large it is. D timer is a blood test that can be used to determine if a blood clot exists. If there has been a recent surgery, a fall or pregnancy D timer can't be used because it will give a false positive result.
For superficial blood clots, warm compresses or anti-inflammatory medication can be used to treat. If the clot forms near the groin area a blood-thinning agent may need to be used. Blood thinning medications prevent the clot from growing and traveling to the lungs and causing an Embolism. The most important things you can do to prevent a Pulmonary Embolism is to take preventative measures. Getting up and walking around after sitting for a couple of hours, exercise, good diet and going to your doctor for regular checkups are all very important.