What Should You Do If You Find Out There’s A Blood Clot In Your Leg?

Many people have concerns about various health issues and wonder what their own chances are of ending up with a serious disease, disorder or a life-threatening health concern.

Wondering about a strange skin rash or a random pain doesn’t make you a hypochondriac. It just means that you have a medical issue that you don’t quite understand.

Blood clots will often fall into this category of medical uncertainty. Most of us have heard about the dangers of blood clots, which can often be heavily exaggerated. And any type of random pain or discomfort that is unexplained may cause you to think that you have a blood clot forming.

But it’s important to find out more about what blood clots are and how they form before you convince yourself that you have a blood clot in your leg.

What Exactly Is A Blood Clot?

Our blood has a very complex job. It needs to flow throughout our body continuously without any issues, yet at the same time it is expected to clot whenever we have a cut or start to bleed.

Our blood is meant to clot. The process prevents us from bleeding out whenever our skin is cut or punctured. But blood clots can also start to form when they don’t need to. And when that happens, it could lead to serious medical issues such as a heart attack or stroke.

When our blood clots for no reason, it is usually due to underlying medical conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Atrial fibrillation. It could also be due to a pulmonary embolism.

What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep vein thrombosis is a medical condition where a blood clot forms inside one of the deep veins of the lower legs, the thighs, arms or pelvis area. The clot blocks the circulation of blood through the vein, which carries blood from the lower part of the body back up to the heart. This blockage can lead to swelling, pain, or unusual warmth in the affected area.

Severe issues with DVT occur when the blood clot breaks free to travel through the bloodstream. This causes blockage of the vessels or pulmonary arteries in the lungs which can lead to a pulmonary embolism.

The CDC has estimated that there are around 900,000 people in the United States who may be affected by deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism. Every year, between 60,000 and 100,000 U.S. citizens die due to DVT and PE.

What Is A Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism, often referred to as PE, is a condition where an artery in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot.

There are more than 20,000 cases of PE every year in the US. Lab tests or imaging tests can usually determine if a patient has a pulmonary embolism. The condition is treatable and usually will resolve between a few days to a few weeks with the right type of medical treatment and support.

The symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath. Prompt diagnosis and treatment to break up the blood clot can help to reduce the risk of PE becoming fatal. Treatment often involves taking blood thinners and wearing compression stockings.

What Are The Signs Of A Blood Clot In Your Leg?

Although a blood clot can happen practically anywhere in the body, they are often found in the legs. That is where issues like DVT will occur.

Here are a few of the most common signs of having a blood clot in your leg due to DVT:

man holding his leg
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Skin is warm to the touch
  • Pain
  • Severe pain when bending the foot
  • Leg cramps that occur in the calf area at night
  • Discoloration of the skin

There are several causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis. They can include damage caused to the interior of the blood vessel due to recent trauma, or other conditions that may affect the natural flow of blood in the legs.

What Are The Causes Of A Blood Clot?

A blood clot will usually form when a person doesn’t move around often. Here are a few more reasons why you may end up with a blood clot:

  • You have had surgery recently
  • You are over the age of 65.
  • You take any type of hormones such as birth control.
  • You have cancer or are receiving treatment.
  • You have had a broken bone recently such as the leg, pelvis or hip.
  • You have a heart condition
  • You are paralyzed.
  • You’ve had a stroke
  • You have taken a long trip in a plane, car or train that caused you to sit for a long period.
  • You have varicose veins.
  • You are overweight.
  • You’ve endured a bad bump or a bruise
  • You are confined to a bed
blood clot on leg

When To Seek Medical Help

If you believe that you have a blood clot in your leg or any other part of the body, you should contact your doctor or go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Time is a major factor when it comes to receiving adequate treatment for a blood clot because they can be dangerous if they are not taken care of in time.

Blood clots will form in the veins located in your legs, arms or groin area. If left untreated it is possible for the clot to break loose, and move to another part of your body, including the lugs. When a blood clot makes its way to your lungs, it is known as a pulmonary embolism, which can put your life in serious danger.

a doctor checking a woman leg

Therefore, you should always head to the emergency room or call 911 if you suspect that you have a blood clot.

Treatment For A Blood Clot In The Leg

If you find out that you have a blood clot, your doctor will usually provide you with medication to use as treatment. The type of medication used to treat a blood clot is a blood thinner, also known as an anticoagulant. You will need to follow a strict treatment plan if you are taking blood thinners.

During the first week of treatment, you will take a medicine known as heparin. It works fast and is injected under your skin. You will need to give yourself shots on a regular basis as directed by your doctor.

a woman sitting on a hospital bed

You will also be prescribed Coumadin (Warfarin) which are pills that you take after a week of taking the shots. After a week of taking both pills and shots, it is time to stop the Heparin shots, yet you will continue taking Warfarin for around 3 to 6 months following the discovery of the blood clot.

In rare cases, large DVT of the leg may be treated with surgery. This is usually the best option for patients who can’t take blood thinning medication due to other serious health issues they have.

Ways To Prevent A Blood Clot In Your Leg

There are several things that we can all do to help prevent blood clots from forming. Here are a few suggestions that can help:

  • Do not stand up for more than one hour at a time.
  • Change your position often during a long trip or if you work on your feet.
  • Do not use pillows underneath your knees.
  • Take all your medication as described by your doctor
  • Try not to cross your legs, bump, or cause any type of injury to them.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing and socks or stockings.
  • If prescribed by your doctor, wear compression socks to regulate blood flow.
  • Do any exercises that your doctor suggests.

Preventative Measures For DVT Include:

  • Losing weight if needed
  • Avoiding long periods with no activity
  • Keep your legs elevated when sitting down
  • Avoid taking high dose estrogen pills
  • If you have surgery, get out of bed to walk around several times a day and use compression socks to help improve circulation
  • Take all medication as directed by your doctor to further prevent the formation of clots

Do You Have Concerns About Blood Clots?

If you have any of the symptoms of a blood clot and are concerned that you may have a blood clot in your leg, you should either make an appointment with your doctor, or head to the emergency room depending on the severity of your symptoms.

While it is possible that your symptoms could be linked to another health issue that isn’t as serious as a blood clot, it is crucial that you get checked out and make sure you know what you are dealing with.

blood clot in leg

Fortunately, there is treatment available for blood clots so that you can prevent any serious issues from occurring.