Does DVT Pain Come and Go?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Does DVT Come And Go

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, typically in the legs. While DVT is a serious medical concern, one of the questions that often arises is whether the pain associated with it comes and goes (fluctuates). In this blog, we'll delve into the complexities of DVT pain, exploring its nature, symptoms, and factors that may contribute to its changing levels of pain.

Understanding DVT Pain

According to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, deep vein thrombosis contributes to more than one-quarter million hospitalizations in America each year and leads to upwards of 100,000 deaths. DVT pain is a result of the blood clot obstructing normal blood flow within the affected vein.

The severity of pain can vary from person to person and may be influenced by several factors, including the size and location of the clot. The pain associated with DVT is commonly described as a cramping or throbbing sensation, and it often occurs in the calf or thigh.

The symptoms associated with acute DVT include swelling of the leg or arm, and in some cases, the pain can be intense. It's important to note, however, per the Cleveland Clinic, that up to 30 percent of people with DVT experience no symptoms or symptoms that are so mild that it raises no concern.

Does DVT Pain Come and Go?

Yes, DVT pain can come and go. It’s this fluctuation in pain intensity that makes diagnosing blood clots challenging. The pain may be intermittent, especially in the early stages of DVT. Some individuals may experience periods of intense discomfort, while others might have milder, more sporadic pain. It's crucial to note that the pain associated with DVT can change over time, and various factors may influence its pattern.

Factors that influence DVT pain:

Clot size and position

The size and position of the blood clot play a significant role in determining the pain associated with DVT. Larger clots or those in critical locations may cause more persistent and intense discomfort. Smaller clots, or those in less sensitive areas, might result in more sporadic or milder pain.

Activity level

    Physical activity can affect DVT pain. Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as long flights or extended bed rest, may exacerbate pain as blood flow slows down, increasing the risk of clot formation. On the other hand, movement and exercise can sometimes alleviate pain by promoting blood circulation. 2.

    Inflammation and swelling

          Inflammation and swelling are common side effects of DVT. These symptoms can contribute to pain and tenderness in the affected area. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medications and elevation of the affected limb may help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.


          Complications arising from DVT, such as pulmonary embolism (when a blood clot travels to the lungs), can cause sudden and severe pain. The pain associated with complications may not follow the same pattern as the initial DVT pain, making it essential to seek medical attention promptly if any new or worsening symptoms occur.

          Treatment effects

            Individuals undergoing treatment for DVT, such as anticoagulant therapy, may experience changes in pain as the clot begins to dissolve. While the medication prevents the clot from growing, the pain may gradually subside. However, following the prescribed treatment plan and consulting with healthcare professionals for guidance is essential.

            Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clot in the Body

            Given the potential serious complications associated with deep vein thrombosis, it's essential to seek medical attention if you experience new or unusual discomfort, such as leg swelling or unexplained mild or severe pain. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are crucial in reducing the risk of complications of DVT.

            According to WebMD, blood clot symptoms vary depending on the blood clot location, for example:

            • Arms and legs: Swelling can occur in the exact spot where the blood clot forms or can cause the entire area to swell. As the blood clot grows, the pain can increase, and the skin may become itchy, turn bluish-red in color, and become warmer than the surrounding skin. Clots in the calf or lower leg can feel like a cramp or “charley horse.”
            • Heart: A blood clot in the heart can cause a heart attack. Symptoms include severe pain in the chest and arm, sweating, and trouble breathing.
            • Lungs: Usually developing in the deep vein in an arm or leg, a blood clot that breaks off and travels to the lungs is a medical emergency called pulmonary embolism (PE). Symptoms including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, sweating, and dizziness are signs to get medical help promptly.
            • Brain: Caused by a blow to the head or fatty deposits in the walls of the blood vessels that bring blood to the brain can cause a stroke. Symptoms include speech or vision problems, seizures, or generalized weakness.
            • Stomach: Caused by conditions like diverticulitis or liver disease, blood clots can happen in the veins that drain blood from the intestines. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, or severe bloating or belly pain, especially after eating.
            • Kidneys: A blood clot in the kidneys can block waste removal, causing high blood pressure or kidney failure. Signs include pain in the legs, thighs, or stomach, blood in the urine, fever, nausea, vomiting, sudden severe leg pain, and breathing difficulty.

            Diagnosing DVT Blood Clot

            Clinical evaluation by a healthcare professional is pivotal for diagnosing DVT blood clots. The physician can assess the patient's medical history, risk factors, and symptoms, such as swelling, pain, and redness in the affected limb. However, clinical evaluation alone is not sufficient, and additional diagnostic tests are often required and include:

            1. Ultrasound imaging: This noninvasive, highly effective tool uses sound waves to create pictures of how blood flows through the veins and allows healthcare providers to visualize blood flow and identify clots in the veins. Doppler ultrasound, in particular, enables the assessment of blood flow speed, aiding in detecting clots.
            2. D-dimer blood tests: This diagnostic tool measures the presence of a substance released when a blood clot breaks up. Elevated levels of D-dimer may indicate the presence of DVT, although false positives can occur in certain situations.
            3. Venography: This test uses X-rays and dye injected into a large vein in the foot or ankle to help blood vessels show up more clearly. Since this test is invasive, it is rarely done. Other tests, such as ultrasound, often are done first.
            4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Diagnosing DVT in abdominal veins.

            Don't risk deep vein thrombosis turning into a severe health threat!

            Pain from DVT can indeed come and go, making it a nuanced and challenging condition to diagnose and manage. Understanding the various factors that contribute to the fluctuation in pain can empower individuals to recognize the signs of DVT and seek timely medical attention.

            Center for Vein Restoration offers a safe and effective alternative to the ER. Patients can “skip the line” at the ER and receive:

            • Same-day evaluation and diagnosis of possible deep vein thrombosis
            • Notification of results on the same day
            • Immediate start of anticoagulation medication (if indicated)
            • Long-term follow-up care until anticoagulation medicine can be stopped

            For Center for Restoration DVT rule-out service, call 877-SCAN-DVT (877-722-6388).

            Varicose veins are a risk factor for deep vein thrombosis. Treat them today!

            Varicose veins pose a potential risk factor for the development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that may impair blood circulation, increasing the likelihood of blood clot formation. When blood flow is compromised, the risk of clotting in the deep veins, particularly in the legs, rises. Individuals with varicose veins should consult a vein health professional to assess their varicose veins and explore preventive measures before vein disease progresses.

            Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) is America’s largest physician-led vein center, with 120+ locations nationwide. We radically improve 200,000+ lives annually by providing safe, personalized, and positive outpatient treatment options for vein disease.

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