Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - Knee Injuries

What is deep vein thrombosis?

A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot which develops in one of the deep veins; these are most common in the lower leg but can often spread to the thigh if not treated. Clots that form in the veins close to the skin are known as superficial thrombophlebitis; this condition is much less serious than deep vein thrombosis.

Causes of deep vein thrombosis

There are several possible causes of DVT; these include:

  • Family history of blood clots (this is especially relevant if the history involves clotting in the veins)
  • People with heart disease, cancer or circulation problems.
  • Previous experience of a clot
  • Obesity
  • Age: people over 40 are more likely to suffer with a blood clot.
  • Air travel: air travel has been linked to deep vein thrombosis; this has been attributed to high pressure in the cabin and long periods of sitting down.
  • Surgery: a thrombosis may occur after surgery; this is most common following knee and lower leg operations.

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis

Common symptoms include swelling, pain and tenderness around the clot; the skin may also redden and may feel hot to touch.

Possible effects and complications of DVT

Although many people recover quickly without any further illnesses, there are possible complications that may result from a deep vein thrombosis; these include a pulmonary embolism (this occurs when a portion of the clot breaks away and travels up to the lung; this can be fatal), post thrombotic syndrome (this happens when the valves in the blood vessels are damaged by the clot and results in blood collecting in the lower leg) and limb ischemia (this occurs very rarely and involves the vessels becoming blocked, meaning oxygen cannot reach the muscles).

Treatment for deep vein thrombosis

The most common treatment is a course of anticoagulant medication; this prevents the blood from clotting and helps to stop existing clots from growing any bigger. Doctors may also recommend wearing compression stockings, which reduce inflammation.

Preventing deep vein thrombosis

Doctors recommend that people who are travelling long distances do exercises to stretch out the muscles regularly and wear compression socks (these are recommended for long haul flights). It is also important to keep well hydrated and avoid alcohol. Before surgery, patients may be advised to take anticoagulant medications and wear compression stockings.

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