Blood clot symptoms in leg can be very non-specific. It is very important to think about the possibility of a blood clot when you have any new symptom in your leg. If you have risk factors for a blood clot, you need to be specially vigilant.
Here are some common blood clot symptoms in leg:
- Swelling of a leg
- Pain in a leg
- Redness of a leg
- Increased warmth of a leg
- Prominent appearance of the veins in a leg
These common blood clot symptoms in leg are very non-specific and non-sensitive. It means that you may have these symptoms without a blood clot in your leg. You may also have blood clot in leg without any of the common blood clot symptoms.You need to be very careful not to dismiss your symptoms even when your symptoms do not match with any of the above mentioned symptoms.
Blood clot in legs can travel upwards and result in blood clot in lungs. Sometimes smaller fragments of the blood clot in legs can cause multiple blood clots in lungs. You need to look out for blood clot symptoms in lungs anytime you have warning sings of blood clot in leg.
Signs of blood clot in leg: Warning signs and high risk situations
- You have symptoms in one leg only.
- You have very abrupt onset of symptoms in a leg.
- You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after a prolonged period of rest.
- You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after a long car drive.
- You have onset of blood clot symptoms in leg after getting a diagnosis of cancer.
- Your one entire leg is swollen.
- You notice a significant difference in the size of your 2 legs.
- You have pitting edema of one leg only.
- If you press on your swollen leg, it forms an indentation that lasts for a while.
- It hurts to touch your leg along a particular line going up your calf and into your thigh.
- You have a strong family history of blood clots.
- You have had blood clot(s) in the past.
Blood clot symptoms in leg only affect one leg most of the times. Blood clot symptoms also start very abruptly. If you have any symptom in just one leg that started out of nowhere, you need to be very concerned about the possibility of a blood clot. You need to learn about some known risk factors that can increase the odds of having a blood clot. A long car drive, a long flight, recent surgery, immobility, family history of blood clots, having a diagnosis of cancer, and having a prior history of blood clot(s) are all associated with an increased risk of getting a blood clot in leg. If you have these risk factors, you need to take your symptoms seriously and seek medical care.
What does a blood clot in the leg feel like?
In addition to knowing the common blood clot symptoms in leg, you need to understand what it feels like to have blood clot in the leg. In my hospital practice, I have treated hundreds of patients with blood clots in their legs. As I speak to them, I try to find out what they feel like when they have blood clot symptoms in their legs. Most patients notice the sudden onset of their symptoms. They feel like the symptoms came out of nowhere.
One patient described that he was feeling fine just watching TV at home when he felt some uneasy sensation in his right leg. He had his feet up on the ottoman at that time with both feet resting on the top of the ottoman. He then crossed his leg and put his right leg on top of his left leg. He continued to watch TV but his right leg still did not feel right. After several minutes he got off the couch and walked around in his living room. He now had a gnawing tightness in his right calf. He sat on a chair and tried to massage his right leg. When he looked at it, he was concerned. It looked somewhat different. It was a little bigger that the other leg and it appeared a little red and shiny. When he tried to massage it, he felt a little tenderness. Not knowing what to do, he called his doctor’s office. The nurse who picked up the phone told him to go to the nearest hospital ER to get it checked out. They did a doppler ultrasound of his leg and found out he had a blood clot in his leg.
Symptoms of blood clot in leg calf
Posterior calf is the most common part of the leg where many people notice their blood clot symptoms. The deep veins of the legs run along the posterior part of the legs. They climb up the legs running deep in the calves. When you have a blood clot in these deep veins, you get symptoms of blood clot in leg calf. Usually, but not always, symptoms of blood clot in leg calf are less serious that the symptoms of blood clot in thigh and other upper region of deep leg veins.
Blood clot in thigh
The deep veins of the leg run up to the thigh from the back of the calf and continue upward. From there they turn a little forward and go inside the pelvic area. Blood clot in thigh can have more serious symptoms. They can cause swelling of the whole leg. Blood clot in thigh and other upper part of deep leg veins can cause more complications than blood clot limited to leg calf.
Blood clot symptoms in arm: What does a blood clot feel like in your arm?
Blood clot symptoms in arm is present in about 10% of people with deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Most common blood clot symptoms in arm includes heaviness, discomfort, pain, and swelling of the affected arm. Most people feel a sudden change in the affected arm. They notice that the affected arm feels very different from the unaffected arm. They may also feel some numbness and tingling in the arm with the blood clot.
What causes blood clots in legs?
There are three things that cause blood clots in legs:
- Slowing of the flow of blood in leg veins
- Increased coagulability of blood
- Damage of leg veins
These are the three important blood clot causes for not only blood clot in legs
but also blood clot in lungs and even blood clot in heart.
When you do not move for a long time, the flow of blood in your leg veins slow down. After a surgery, your body makes more clotting factors and the coagulability of your blood goes up. After an accident or a trauma, you may have damaged veins in your legs. This is why the risk of blood clot is higher after immobility, surgery and trauma.
How to identify a blood clot?
It is not possible to identify a blood clot by just looking at your leg. Even experienced doctors cannot identify a blood clot in the leg even after examining your leg in detail. You need a special testing to identify a blood clot in your leg. The test is called doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood in blood vessels. An ultrasound technician can use a doppler ultrasound to measure the flow of blood inside your leg veins. Doppler ultrasound is the most commonly used test to identify a blood clot in the leg.
Do blood clots dissolve? Do blood clots go away?
Our bodies have natural clot dissolving system that attempts to dissolve any blood clots and make them go away. However our bodies also have a system that promotes clotting of blood. What happens to a particular blood clot depends on which system is more active at the particular time and place. When you have increased coagulability of blood, it becomes difficult for your body to dissolve your blood clot naturally. Medications for blood clot treatment decrease the coagulability of blood and give our natural clot dissolving system significant advantage over clot forming system. That is why proper treatment with these medications will eventually make your blood clots go away.
How do you know if a blood clot is moving?
When you have blood clot in legs, you need to worry about the clot moving out of the legs and going up to the lungs. However, there are no reliable tests to know if a blood clot is moving. Although doppler ultrasound may sometimes reveal signs of a possibly mobile clot, they can’t reliably predict which clot will move to the lungs and which clot will not. That’s why it is important to look out for blood clot symptoms in lungs when you are diagnosed with blood clot in legs.
Blood clot treatment: How to treat a blood clot? How to get rid of a blood clot?
Blood thinners are the main tools used in blood clot treatment. Unlike clot busting medications, blood thinners do not actually dissolve the clot by themselves. Blood thinners help decrease the coagulability of blood by attacking the natural clot forming system in your body. When clot forming system is down, your natural clot dissolving system gets an advantage. With proper blood clot treatment, you can get rid of blood clot in legs.
Blood clot in leg treatment should be started as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. The choice of medicine for blood clots in legs depends on individual preference and clinical situation. Usually, blood clot treatment is started in the emergency department with an injectable blood thinner. Unless there are signs of concomitant blood clot in lungs, most people with blood clot in legs are discharged home after a short observation in hospital or emergency department.
Blood clot in leg treatment at home after being discharged from the hospital mainly consists of taking the prescribed blood thinner pills. With the older blood thinner called Coumadin or Warfarin, you need frequent blood tests to adjust the dose. With newer blood thinners such as rivaroxaban(Xarelto) and dabigatran(Pradaxa), you won’t need the blood tests. However, you need to talk to your doctor before you decide which medicine for blood clots in legs would be the most appropriate one for your particular situation.
Blood clot in lung treatment is described in detail in this article that also talks about blood clot in lung prognosis and blood clot in lung survival rate. In summary medical treatment for blood clots in lungs is similar to treatment of blood clot in legs, except in complicated life threatening situations.
Blood clot in leg pain relief
Many patients with blood clot in legs have significant pain with it. Blood clot in leg pain relief should be an important part of blood clot in leg treatment. In addition to over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol, some patients may need prescription pain pills such as Ultram to help them with the pain associated with blood clot in legs. A small dose of muscle relaxants may help some patients while others may benefit from leg elevation and physical therapy.