A blood clot in the leg is commonly known as a DVT, short for a deep venous thrombosis. In this article we will discuss symptoms of blood clot in leg. Common symptoms of a blood clot in your leg include leg pain, leg swelling, tenderness in the leg and leg cramping, although it is not necessary to have all of these symptoms.
Symptoms of Blood Clot in Leg – Swelling
A leg DVT is a blood clot that forms in the veins of the leg. Symptoms of blood clot in leg occur because the blood clot blocks the blood flow in the vein in which it forms. Usually blood flows through the veins on its way back to the heart. When there is a clot, the blood can’t get past the clot on its way back to the heart and so there is a backlog of blood and congestion in the leg that leads to swelling. When clinically examining a patient we look for a calf that has become a few cm bigger than the other calf when measured around it.
Leg Pain and Tenderness
As we stated before, the blood clot that forms in the leg leads to a congestion of blood that can now no longer pass on its way back to the heart through the usual channels particularly if the deeper and larger veins are blocked. The congestion of blood and the swelling basically mean that the pressure in the veins is higher and that is exerted on the tissue compartments within the leg. This is why symptoms of blood clot in leg include leg pain and tenderness.
For the same reason that leg pain and tenderness are symptoms of blood clot in leg, cramping can occur. This is due to the higher than usual pressures caused in the compartments of the leg by the blockage caused by the blood clot.
Worse With Movement
The symptoms of blood clot in leg can of course occur at rest but are typically worse with movement. Many patients report an increase in leg pain, cramping and tenderness with movement such as extending the leg or walking. Some people describe it as a deep muscle ache.
Prominent Veins on Leg Surface
The congestion caused by the blockage in the vein from a blood clot causes blood to back up not only in the deep veins of the leg, but also in the smaller surface veins that drain in to them. This can lead to prominence of veins on the surface of the leg.
Passing Out, Shortness of Breath and Chest Pain
Blood clots in the leg can possibly detach and travel up to the lung where the clot is trapped and known as a pulmonary embolism. Although this article is about symptoms of blood clot in leg, it’s important to know the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism lung clot as this starts with a clot in the leg. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and even passing out. Of course it’s very worrying if symptoms of blood clot in leg are combined with symptoms of a pulmonary embolism as that makes both diagnoses much more likely.
Symptoms of Blood Clot in Leg – Who’s at Risk?
Symptoms of blood clot in the leg do not necessarily mean there is a blood clot in the leg however in patients with a high likelihood of having a blood clot due to the presence of risk factors, then symptoms need to be taken even more seriously.
Strong risk factors include leg fractures, surgery, spinal injuries and major trauma. Other risk factors include cancer and cancer treatment, hormone therapy and use of oral contraceptives, strokes resulting in immobilization and pregnancy. Less strong, but still established risk factors include morbid obesity, older age, and travel requiring immobility for at least 8 hours.
Blood Clot In Leg – Making a Diagnosis With an Ultrasound Scan
When there are symptoms of blood clot in leg, its important to make a diagnosis. Once the signs and symptoms are suggestive of a blood clot in the leg the test of choice is an ultrasound scan of the legs to look for the presence of clot.
Blood Clot In Leg – Blood Test
When patients present with possible symptoms of blood clot in leg a blood test known as the D-dimer test may be useful. In patients with a high likelihood of having a blood clot in their leg this test is not done and we generally proceed straight to the ultrasound scan of the leg. In patients who are low likelihood of having a blood clot in their leg, the D-dimer blood test is done and, if negative, it rules out a clot with good accuracy.
Why It’s Important to Know
It’s very important to be aware of symptoms of blood clot in leg. This way medical attention can be obtained and a diagnosis made. Also the appropriate treatment can be started to improve patient outcomes and underlying causes for the clot in the leg can be found, which includes blood thinners. Its important to be aware of symptoms of blood clot in leg to treat and prevent recurrence of clots in the leg to prevent dangerous outcomes such as development of a pulmonary embolism lung clot that can be a potentially life threatening complication.