6 Early Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis

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6 Early Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis can happen to just about anyone, although advanced age and other health-related factors put you at greater risk. That's why knowing the warning signs is essential.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside your body. This condition can be very serious because the blood clot can break loose, travel through your bloodstream, and become lodged in the blood vessel of your lungs. This condition is called pulmonary embolism (PE). PE can be life-threatening and requires emergency treatment.

Taking precautions and seeing a doctor as soon as possible is extremely important if you suspect you have DVT. Noticing the problem before it worsens and seeking the proper treatment is key to preventing dangerous complications and long-term issues such as disability. While some people may experience mild symptoms, you must recognize that you could have a potentially life-threatening disease.

What causes DVT?

DVT is caused by a blood clot that blocks a vein. Usually forming in the legs, DVT can also develop in other areas of the body. Blood clots can form for several reasons, including:


If an injury causes damage to a blood vessel, it can decrease or even block blood flow and may form a blood clot.

Genetic Disorders

Certain blood clotting disorders can increase the likelihood of DVT. However, these genetic disorders are rare.


Some medications can cause blood clots. It would be best to discuss any medicine's risks and benefits before use with your doctor.


Blood vessels can be damaged during surgery, which can cause blood clots. If you are on bed rest after surgery with very little movement, it can also increase the risk of blood clots.

Reduced Mobility or Inactivity

Immobility or sitting for extended periods can cause blood to collect in your legs and form a blood clot.

Who is at risk of DVT?

People who are more likely to develop blood clots include:

  • Cancer patients
  • People who have recently had surgery
  • People who are on extended bed rest
  • Those over 60 years old
  • Smokers
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who sit for extended periods, especially those who travel frequently
  • Pregnant women or women who have recently given birth
  • Those who have had DVT before
  • Women taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • People who have varicose veins

If you fit into any of the above categories, you need to be aware of signs of blood clots. But what do you need to be looking for? Here are six early signs that you may have developed DVT and need to see a doctor.

Early Stage DVT Symptoms in the Leg

People begin to experience the initial stages of deep vein thrombosis in their leg when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins. These vessels bring blood back to the heart once it has delivered oxygen to the tissues. The initial symptoms are tied to the obstruction of the blood returning to your heart, leading to a buildup of blood in the leg.

Most experience DVT in the leg, but it is not uncommon for it to occur in other areas, such as the pelvis.

Early symptoms of DVT include:

Skin redness or discoloration: The skin over the impacted area may become pale, red, or blue. The blood buildup in the affected area causes this. Like other DVT symptoms, the color won't fade with time.

Throbbing or cramping pain: Some people who have developed a blood clot in their leg may feel cramping in the calf or severe unexplained pain in the foot and ankle. You may notice the pain worsening when you walk or stand for prolonged lengths of time. The cramping may feel like a charley horse but will persist and worsen over time.

Warm skin: An area of skin that feels warmer than the surrounding areas can indicate a blood clot. This warm sensation may be limited to the area just over the vein. Sometimes, the entire calf or limb will be warmer than the other.

Tenderness: You may feel sensitivity over the affected area.

Swelling: Inflammation may occur in the affected leg, foot, or ankle, but rarely is there swelling in both legs.

Trouble breathing: The inability to draw a full breath could indicate that the blood clot has moved from your arm or leg into your chest. If you develop a bad cough or pain in your chest or are coughing up blood, call 911 immediately.

Early warning signs of a pulmonary embolism

  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Lightheaded or dizzy feeling

Chest pain that worsens when taking a deep breath or coughing

How to prevent and treat your early stage DVT

To prevent DVT, remember to drink plenty of water and take breaks from long car rides or extended periods of sitting. A doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications (known as anticoagulants) to ease pain and inflammation, break up clots, and keep new clots from forming. Depending on the severity, elevation, and moist heat are common treatments.

What to do if you suspect DVT

Center for Vein Restoration offers a DVT rule-out service that helps you avoid a lengthy and costly trip to the emergency room—and we will follow up with your primary care or another physician of your choice quickly.

Call Center for Vein Restoration's DVT hotline at 877-SCAN-DVT (877-7226-388) to access the one-stop DVT manager.

Meet Dr. Markovitz

Lawrence Jay Markovitz, MD, FACS, is a board-certified thoracic surgeon with decades of experience in cardiac and thoracic surgery. In 2008 he turned his professional focus to diagnosing and treating venous disorders. He comes to Center for Vein Restoration as the past president of Virginia Vein Care, McLean, Virginia.

Dr. Markovitz is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Vein and Lymphatic Society. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and American College of Chest Physicians. He is the author of multiple publications, abstracts, and presentations.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Markovitz in either McLean, Virginia, or Purcellville, Virginia. Or request an appointment with one of CVR's 70+ skilled vein care specialists about our safe, effective diagnosis and treatment for deep vein thrombosis.

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