When a blood clot forms in one of the body’s deep veins, the condition is known as deep vein thrombosis. The “deep veins” are the veins that lie deep within the body, often within the muscles.
The most common places to experience deep vein thrombosis are in the legs (thigh or calf) and pelvis. Though less common, deep vein thrombosis can also occur in the chest, arms or elsewhere in the body.
Causes and Complications
Various factors can cause deep vein thrombosis. Sometimes, an injury or a complication from surgery leads to the development of a clot. Long periods of not moving, such as when traveling, can put you at risk. So can heart disease, cancer, obesity and inactivity.
In many instances, you can have deep vein thrombosis without even knowing it. But other times, the leg swells and becomes tender and painful. It might also feel warm or turn a blue or red color at the source of the clot.
If a clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which is a potentially life-threatening complication.
Prevention and Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Regular exercise and medical checkups can minimize the risk for deep vein thrombosis. If you've recently been injured or had surgery, resume activity only when your doctor says it's safe to do so. Be sure to break up long trips by taking time to move around and stretch frequently.
Deep vein thrombosis can be treated with oral or injected blood thinners that break up and dissolve the blood clot. In rare instances, surgery may be needed to remove the clot.
SOURCES: Society for Vascular Surgery; Office of the U.S. Surgeon General