Do you think that your swollen leg is not a concern? Think again! It is a sign of blood pooling in a vein and can be a severe disorder.
A bruise or a sprain can temporarily cause your ankle or calf to swell, and occasional swelling in the leg or ankles is likely not a cause for concern. But if the swelling persists without an injury, the problem may indicate blood pooling in the leg veins, leading to severe complications if left unaddressed.
One such complication is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), one of the most severe forms of vein disease. Without prompt medical intervention, DVT may lead to a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE). Recognizing DVT symptoms and seeking treatment can prevent PE. But first, you need to understand why and how blood pooling in your lower limbs can cause DVT, so you can seek the proper treatment to address the disorder successfully.
What’s the connection between blood pooling and DVT?
DVT refers to a blood clot in a vein deep within the leg linked to blood pooling in the vein that restricts circulation. This condition is known medically as venous insufficiency.
Varicose veins are one of the most visible signs of venous insufficiency, but you can still experience the symptoms of vein disease without noticing varicose veins. The venous pooling begins when tiny valves lining the vein walls grow progressively weaker. As they lose strength, the valves fail close and push blood back to the heart. Blood backflows and collects in the vein, leading to a swollen leg that may cramp and feel painful.
So how does blood pooling cause DVT? When blood doesn’t circulate, the blood cells stick to each other. When enough cells cluster together, a clot forms. You’ll notice swelling, pain, and tender, reddish-looking skin, usually in only one leg. Swift treatment can dissolve the clot before it moves through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs, where it can cause PE.
PE symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, a bloody cough, and a racing heartbeat. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
How is DVT treated?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that DVT and PE strike roughly 900,000 people each year. Fortunately, DVT is very treatable when diagnosed early.
If the clot is large, it may be surgically removed. Likewise, an angioplasty procedure can inflate a balloon in the vein to unblock blood flow. During another type of procedure, a board-certified vein specialist, such as one at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR), can place a filter in the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the body, to catch a clot before it travels to the lungs.
Once the DVT clears, your doctor may prescribe blood thinners to interrupt the blood’s ability to clot. Wearing medical-grade compression stockings and staying active also support the necessary circulation that prevents blood pooling.
You can prevent a DVT by staying alert to the symptoms of blood pooling. For example, constant leg swelling and pain signal poor blood circulation. Varicose veins are not only unsightly but also a red flag for vein disease.
If those symptoms make everyday tasks uncomfortable, consult a vascular specialist who can diagnose and treat vein disease. You may need to undergo minimally invasive surgery to eliminate the clogged vein. The good news is that today’s procedures are virtually pain-free and typically take no more than an hour.
Your vein health is important
Vein disease can be a serious medical disorder. Fortunately, treatment is at your fingertips at any of CVR’s vein clinics across the United States. CVR physicians have helped thousands of patients overcome the pain of venous insufficiency. See what we can do for you by contacting one of our offices to schedule a consultation.