November 4, 2020 Dr Zil

Deep vein thrombosis, commonly known as DVT, occurs when a clot develops in one of the deeper veins in your legs, most often in the lower leg. It occurs because the blood in the legs isn’t circulating properly, most often the result of pre-existing conditions, lifestyle factors or extended periods of inactivity such as long haul travel, being on bedrest for recovery from operation etc.  But what a DVT feel like? Does it hurt? And how can you stop one from developing?

What is a DVT?

DVT is a condition that involves blood clots (thrombi) in the deep veins of the legs. When blood clots develop in the deeper veins it can be serious and require medical attention. The obstruction caused to venous blood flow by these deeper clots, or thrombi, is a concern, but the real danger from deep vein thrombosis is that the clots can break loose from where they originally formed and travel through the veins to other locations in the body.

While a DVT can lead to more serious issues like ulcers in the leg and inflammation of the veins, the most serious problem is a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when the clot dislodges and moves through the veins, blocking off the main artery to the lungs. When this occurs, it can cause enormous damage, and in one-third of all cases, it’s fatal.

This means that noticing the signs of a DVT and treating them early can very literally mean the difference between life and death, and should not be taken lightly.

What does a DVT feel like?

  • Pain and tenderness in the leg, most often the same type of pain as a severe muscle cramp and can come and go.
  • Swelling in the affected area, often with redness of the skin. If this swelling goes away when iced, or elevating your legs brings the swelling down, it’s more likely a muscle injury.
  • The warmth of the area. The swollen/red area will often feel warm or even hot to the touch.
  • Altered mobility of the leg. If you find that bending the foot or knee causes more pain, it can be a sign of a DVT.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate medical help. In these cases, if a DVT is confirmed by a medical practitioner, they’ll often prescribe a blood-thinner or anti-coagulant to help dissipate the clot and prevent it growing in addition to any other treatment required.

Can I stop a DVT from developing?

There is a range of risk factors that can lead to DVT, and by managing these where you can both short and long-term, you can minimise the risk of blood clots and DVT.

  • Pregnancy, especially in the later stages and for up to six weeks after birth, increases your chances of developing a clot, so keep moving and wear compression stockings.
  • Medications like the pill and hormone replacement therapy usually increase your body’s ability to clot and develop a DVT.
  • Being overweight or obese puts a greatly increased pressure on the veins in your lower half.
  • Smoking increases your risk of DVT and blood clots, as well as a range of other health conditions. Speak to your GP to find the best way to quit for good.
  • Family history of DVT, pulmonary embolism or blood-clotting disorders can leave you prone to developing a clot, so make sure you’re taking care of those veins.
  • Extended periods of sitting or lying, such as travelling in a plane or car for a long time, convalescing in a hospital bed or having your leg immobilised in a cast.

Progression of deep vein thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment

In most cases DVT, once diagnosed, can be effectively treated using anticoagulant medications. In some cases, “clot-busting” thrombolytic agents are used, and in rare cases, surgery may be required. Learn more: Deep Vein Thrombosis treatment

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are:

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.