Topics Covered in this Blog:
- Venous Thromboembolism
- What Does a Blood Clot in Your Leg Feel Like?
- How to Reduce Your Risk for Blood Clot in Leg
- Lower Your Risk for Blood Clots at USA Vein Clinics
Blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism, are a relatively common, treatable occurrence. Nevertheless, when a blood clot develops in a leg, arm, or elsewhere in the body, it is considered a serious health issue. Understanding the signs and symptoms of blood clots can help you know when to seek potentially life-saving treatment.
If you suffer from vein disease, you may be at increased risk of developing blood clots, particularly blood clots in the legs. Below, we discuss risk factors, symptoms, and potential complications of venous thromboembolism. For additional information, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 900,000 Americans are impacted by venous thromboembolism each year. Approximately 60,000-100,000 people die each year as a result. Prompt medical treatment typically leads to the best health outcomes. This is why it is so important to understand the answer to “what does a blood clot in the leg feel like?”
While anyone can develop a blood clot, some significant risk factors make you more likely to have one. The most significant is a recent surgery or hospitalization; about half of the people who experience a blood clot have had one or both. Being immobile (such as during an illness) can also raise your risk.
Other risk factors for developing blood clots include:
- A recent injury to the leg
- Traveling, especially by plane, for extended periods
- Underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and sickle cell disease
- Being a woman
- Pregnancy and recent childbirth
- Taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
- Being over age 60
- Being obese or overweight
- An inactive lifestyle
- A personal or family history of blood clots
- Varicose veins
- Vein disease
Varicose veins are a sign of vein disease, or venous insufficiency. Vein disease develops when tiny, one-way vein valves are placed under strain, become damaged, and begin to malfunction. Genetics, age, and lifestyle factors can all impact your venous health.
Most commonly, the legs are affected. This is because when veins struggle to carry blood to the heart against gravity, blood can begin to pool in the lower extremities. When this occurs, your veins may start to expand and develop into varicose veins.
Some symptoms of vein disease can be similar to those of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious type of blood clot. We will discuss the symptoms of DVT in the following section.
Common vein disease symptoms include:
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Tired, aching legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that improves with walking or elevation
- Itchy, dry skin
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Difficulty standing for prolonged periods
- Open, non-healing leg wounds
- Varicose veins and spider veins
If you believe you may have vein disease, we recommend consulting a vein specialist for a complete medical evaluation.
Suppose you are at risk for venous thromboembolism due to any one of the above factors, including vein disease. In that case, you may benefit from close monitoring and minimally invasive vein treatment performed by a vein specialist. We also recommend looking out for signs of blood clots in your legs at home. Next, we discuss what a blood clot in the leg feels like?
What Does a Blood Clot in Your Leg Feel Like?
Unfortunately, the more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop a blood clot. However, keep in mind that people with no risk factors at all can still develop one. In other words, it is always important to know the signs of venous thromboembolism.
Another thing to know is that some blood clots are more serious than others. A blood clot that develops in a superficial vein or a vein near the skin’s surface is usually no cause for alarm. This type of blood clot is known as superficial thrombophlebitis.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), on the other hand, occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the body. Most often, the legs are affected. DVT requires medical treatment right away.
You may be wondering, can you feel a blood clot in your leg? Although not every blood clot in your legs produces symptoms, common ones include:
- Swelling in the leg or arm: One common sign of venous thromboembolism is swelling. This can be mild or severe, often causing pain or discomfort.
- Leg pain: What does a blood clot in the leg feel like? Some patients describe a cramping type of pain in their leg. You may also experience tenderness in the region.
- Skin discoloration: A blood clot in the leg can lead to skin changes, such as redness or other types of discoloration.
- Skin that is warm to the touch: If you notice warmness in a specific area of the body, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, you may have a blood clot.
Since some blood clots in the legs can feel similar to a pulled muscle or cramp, it is important to seek medical evaluation when symptoms are present. Prompt treatment can help prevent a blood clot from becoming more severe.
When deep vein thrombosis is left untreated, it can lead to a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism. This describes when a piece of the clot breaks off and travels to the lung.
Symptoms of pulmonary embolism can include:
- Sharp chest pain that may be worse when you breathe deeply
- Rapid heart rate
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Sudden cough, sometimes accompanied by bloody mucus
Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Blood Clot in Leg
Do you prefer to avoid developing a blood clot? We certainly understand. While you may not be able to control all of your contributing risk factors, there are, nonetheless, some things you can do to reduce your risk.
While we encourage you to discuss your concerns with your doctor, we generally recommend the following to prevent a blood clot in your leg:
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI)
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Avoid long periods of standing or sitting
- Quit smoking
- Wear compression socks
- Manage underlying health conditions
- Schedule an appointment with a vein specialist
- Consider vein treatment, when appropriate
Developing a blood clot in your leg can feel scary, but we want to assure you that effective treatment exists. If you experience symptoms, contact your doctor or head to urgent care immediately.
Lower Your Risk for Blood Clots at USA Vein Clinics
What does a blood clot in the leg feel like? As discussed above, there is a range of potential symptoms, including leg pain, swelling, cramping, warmness, and skin discoloration. We have also shared that looking out for signs of pulmonary embolism is critical, a life-threatening condition that can develop when deep vein thrombosis is left untreated.
To prevent venous thromboembolism from developing, we recommend consulting one of our leading vein specialists at USA Vein Clinics. Our doctors can evaluate your overall vein health and make personalized treatment recommendations.
Our experts offer a range of minimally invasive, office-based vein treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, restless legs, and other venous issues. Our treatments can alleviate painful and uncomfortable leg symptoms, reduce the risk of blood clots and venous ulcers, and improve your quality of life.
With minimally invasive vein treatment, there is no need for a hospital stay, surgery, or lengthy recovery. All of our state-of-the-art treatments take less than an hour to perform, from start to finish. Most patients leave immediately afterward and return to their normal daily activities. Our specialists provide vein treatment at over 100 locations nationwide. For your convenience, we also offer virtual doctor visits.
If you have additional questions related to: “Am I experiencing venous thromboembolism?”, “Can you feel a blood clot in your leg?” or “What does a blood clot in your leg feel like?” we hope you’ll contact one of our knowledgeable experts for personalized, compassionate answers.
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