Recognizing the Signs of a Blood Clot in Your Thigh

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Image Blood Clot Thigh

Our circulatory system, comprised of the heart, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels, acts as a silent but vital highway, transporting the oxygen and nutrients throughout the body that keep us alive. But the consequences can be serious when blood flow is obstructed along this crucial route. One such obstruction is a blood clot, a potentially dangerous gel-like clump that can form in the arteries or veins.

In this blog, we'll explore the warning signs of a blood clot in the thigh and why early detection is the key to the timely intervention needed to prevent a deadly outcome. While blood clots can occur throughout our body, blood clots in the thighs pose a particular concern due to their potential to cause significant complications.

Blood Clots by the Numbers

A blood clot in the thigh, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can be a serious medical condition that requires prompt medical attention. DVT happens when a blood clot, also known as a thrombus, forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body, usually in the legs. DVT can cause serious illness, such as post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), or even death if a DVT leads to a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is when a blood clot breaks loose and travels through the blood to the heart and then into the lungs, blocking one or more arteries in the lungs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 900,000 people (that’s 1 to 2 per 1,000 people) experience DVT or PE in the United States every year. Of them, 60,000-100,000 Americans die of blood clots. More lives are lost to DVT and PE blood clots than the combined death toll of breast cancer, HIV, and motor vehicle accidents combined.

More than one-third of people with DVT/PE will have a recurrence within ten years.

What are the signs of a blood clot in the thigh?

Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism often go unrecognized until it’s too late. Per the CDC, sudden death is the first symptom in 25 percent of people with PE. To reduce the risk of death from DVT and PE, it’s essential to know the common symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, which include:

  1. Swelling: One of the most common symptoms is swelling in the affected leg. The swelling may be sudden and can make one leg noticeably larger than the other.
  2. Pain or Tenderness: Individuals with a blood clot in the thigh often experience pain or tenderness, especially when standing or walking. A cramping sensation may also accompany the pain.
  3. Warmth and Redness: The skin over the affected area may feel warm to the touch and appear red or discolored.
  4. Veins Become More Noticeable: The veins near the skin's surface may bulge, becoming more prominent.
  5. Throbbing or Pulsing Sensation: Some individuals may experience a rhythmic sensation in the leg.
  6. Leg Fatigue or Heaviness: Some people with DVT may feel a sense of fatigue or heaviness in their affected leg.
  7. Pitting Edema: DVT can cause fluid buildup in the arms or legs, leading to a noticeable dimple or "pit" when the swollen area is pressed.

It's important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other conditions, so seeking timely medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential. To reach Center for Restoration DVT rule-out service, call 877-SCAN-DVT (877-722-6388).

What are the causes of blood clots in the thigh?

Blood clots can form when blood flow in the veins slows down or stops for several reasons. Per the Cleveland Clinic, high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries), Raynaud’s disease, and peripheral artery disease (PAD), in addition to varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism, can all slow down circulation.

The risk factors for poor circulation in the deep leg veins that cause DVT and PE blood clots, however, include:

Age: While DVT can occur at any age, being older than 60 increases the risk.

Lack of movement: Prolonged immobility, such as being bedridden for long periods, sitting for extended hours during travel, or limited movement due to medical conditions, can increase the risk of DVT.

Injury or surgery: Vein injury or major surgery, particularly involving the abdomen, pelvis, hip, or legs, can elevate the risk of blood clots.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum can increase the risk of DVT due to increased pressure in the veins in the pelvis and legs.

Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy: These can increase the blood's ability to clot, raising the risk of DVT.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the pressure in the veins in the pelvis and legs, contributing to a higher risk of DVT.

Smoking: Smoking affects blood flow and clotting, thereby increasing the risk of DVT.

Medical conditions: Conditions such as cancer, heart failure, and COVID-19 can also increase the risk of DVT.

Inherited clotting disorders and family history: People with inherited clotting disorders can make their blood more prone to clotting. For example, individuals with a condition known as thrombophilia have an increased risk of developing DVT. Having a family history of blood clots, especially in close relatives like parents or siblings, can raise your risk due to inherited factors affecting clotting.

It's important to be aware of these risk factors, especially when multiple factors are present, as they can significantly increase the likelihood of developing DVT. Understanding these risk factors can help individuals take preventive measures and seek medical attention if needed.

How to prevent blood clots in the thigh

By adopting the following preventative measures, individuals can safeguard their vascular health and reduce their risk of blood clots in the thigh:

Move and Exercise

Regular movement and exercise can help prevent blood clots. If you've had surgery or have been on bed rest, try to move as soon as possible. When traveling, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. If you're on a plane, stand or walk occasionally. If you're traveling by car, stop every hour or so and walk around. If you can't walk, do lower leg exercises.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water and avoiding excessive alcohol intake can help prevent blood clots, especially during long periods of immobility.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is a risk factor for DVT, so managing weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet can lower the risk of blood clots.

Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes

Wearing loose-fitting clothes, socks, or stockings can help promote healthy blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots.

Elevate Your Legs

Raising your legs six inches above your heart from time to time can prevent blood clots.

Be Mindful During Long Trips

During long car or plane rides, it's important to stay hydrated, avoid excessive alcohol, and perform leg stretches and exercises to promote healthy blood flow. Tip: Get an aisle seat on a plane, train, or bus trip to easily get up and move every few hours. Make frequent stops during car travel to get out and stretch your legs.

Lastly, it's important to manage underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, as they can contribute to clot formation.

What should you do if you suspect a DVT?

If you experience any symptoms associated with DVT or are at risk due to factors such as immobility, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly. DVT and PE can be life-threatening, and immediate medical attention is essential.

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR), America’s largest physician-led vein center, can help if a trip to an emergency room is impossible. CVR vein physicians improve lives by providing nearly pain-free solutions to eliminate problem varicose veins (a risk factor for developing DVT) and offer DVT rule-out services. 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).

Remember, early detection and treatment significantly improve the outcomes for individuals with DVT or PE. If you suspect these conditions, do not attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat. Seek immediate professional medical help for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care with a qualified healthcare practice such as CVR.

For expert vein care by a board-certified Center for Restoration vein physician, call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative or schedule your consultation online at a CVR near you today.

CVR accepts many insurances, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and more.

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