Blood clot in the legs or deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition where a thrombus or blood clot is formed in the deep veins of the body. Calf muscles are the common predilection site for the blood clot formation, which could lead to a more serious and even fatal complication of pulmonary embolism, if left untreated. With knowing blood clot in leg symptoms, there are some simple home remedies can help relieve and prevent such blood clot while medical treatments should be applied for severe condition.
Symptoms of Blood Clot in the Legs
There are usually no blood clot in leg symptoms and signs associated with the development of blood clot in the lower legs. However, some of the signs and symptoms of blood clot in the legs may occur in serious conditions, including:
- Swelling of the affected leg, ankle or foot
- Redness and warm sensation of the affected area
- Night time leg cramps
- Skin discoloration from pale to blue
- Gradual worsening of pain in the affected leg, foot or ankle especially upon bending
Complications of Blood Clot in the Legs
Blood clot formation alone in deep veins of the body is usually negligible and self-limiting, which implies that they heal on its own. However, there are certain conditions where the disease progresses into a worse, if not fatal, complication.
- Pulmonary Embolism. Pulmonary embolism secondary to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a life-threatening condition where the blood clot formed in the larger blood vessels travel trough the bloodstream and eventually gets lodged in the smaller veins of the lungs. Pulmonary embolism is characterized by rapid pulse rate, anxiety, nervousness, fainting, and dizziness, lightheaded sensation, coughing up of blood, dyspnea or difficulty in breathing, excessive sweating, and chest pain upon breathing or coughing.
- Postphlebitic Syndrome. Another common complication in relation to DVT is post-thrombotic or postphlebitic syndrome. The collective signs and symptoms such as leg pain, discoloration of the skin in the affected area, and edema or swelling of the legs are usually seen years after damage to the blood vessels has occurred following thrombus formation.
Causes of Blood Clot in the Legs
Blood clot in leg symptoms can be vary, but some common causes of blood clot in the legs can help you identify your condtions. Blood clot in the legs is caused by the inability of the blood to circulate properly. Factors leading to the development of thrombus could be due to changes in the coagulatory properties of the blood (coagulates more than usual), impediment in blood circulation or damaged blood vessels.
Risk Factors of Blood Clot in the Legs
Common risk factors associated with development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) include but are not limited to the following primary conditions:
- Sitting for longer period or prolonged bed rest, particularly for the elderly suffering from paralysis and/or stroke.
- Inherited disorders of blood clotting such as increased blood clotting time.
- Disseminated Intravascular Condition (DIC)
- Injury to the lower muscles of the legs and fractures of the bone in the legs, hip or ankles.
- People with diseases of the heart and heart failure as the damaged heart will not pump blood effectively.
- Family history for DVT.
Secondary conditions that predisposes to blood clot formation in the legs as are follows:
- Exposed to general anesthesia or have undergone surgery
- Oral contraceptives
- Ulcerative colitis
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Individuals who are tall, elderly and smokers
- People with pacemakers in the heart are more prone
Treatments for Blood Clots in the Legs
Blood clot in leg symptoms can be relieve with certain treatments. Deep vein thrombosis diagnosis includes thorough questioning about the patient's history, including presence of any predisposing risk factors, and doing blood tests (D dimer level in the blood), and imaging tests for confirmation. Imaging tests to diagnose DVT include Doppler ultrasonogaphy (commonly used test), venography, impedance plethysmography, and computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
1. Medical Treatments
Principles of treating deep vein thrombosis (DVT) include prevention of pulmonary embolism, preventing the thrombus to grow bigger, and reducing the risk of developing another blood clot in the legs. Commonly used agents to achieve the desired result include anticoagulants or blood thinners (drugs of choice), clot busters, filters, and compression stockings.
- Anticoagulants or blood thinners. These are the drugs of choice in treating DVTs. These are agents that decrease the coagulatory effect of the blood, thereby preventing the development of another possible thrombus and decreasing the likelihood of the present blood clot to progress into a bigger one. Commonly used blood thinners available in the market are heparin and warfarin. However, these drugs must be used only upon your doctor’s advice and with utmost care.
- Filters. Another method of treating DVT is by the use of Filters which are placed in the large blood vessels. This method is particularly recommended for patients with underlying medical condition where blood thinners only poses additional detrimental effect to the patient as in the case of gastrointestinal bleeding. The filtering device placed in the large blood vessels will trap the small or dislodged thrombus preventing it from going into the smaller blood vessels of the lungs.
- Clot busters. These are drugs known as thrombolytics, which are given via intravenous route especially in life-threatening conditions.
- Compression stockings. These are also helpful in the treatment and management of deep vein thrombosis as it prevents edema due to the pressure generated by the stocking.
2. Home Remedies and Preventions
In addtions to the above medical treatment, some home remedies help to ease blood clot in leg symptoms. You can prevent DVT from occurring by following certain home remedies. These include:
- Take care of your vitamin K intake, as it may interfere with your blood thinners.
- Exercising the leg muscles especially when sitting for a long time is also beneficial. Get moving. A little walk around the room especially for those who just have a surgery is advised to move to prevent thrombus formation in the legs.
- Obese individuals and smokers are also recommended to lose weight and quit smoking, respectively.
- Watch out for the likelihood of severe hemorrhage to occur particularly in those individuals who are taking anticoagulants.
- Take the prescribed drugs as requested by your doctor.
- Do not forget to visit your doctor regularly to monitor your condition and do treatment modifications.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of DVT. Consult your doctor immediately if pulmonary embolism secondary to blood clotting in the legs has occurred or if the patient is suffering from difficulty in breathing, about to faint, and is having severe chest pain.