Phlebitis is the vein inflammation that causes pain and discomfort on the legs and arms. Thrombophlebitis is a condition in which there is blood clot and inflammation on the legs. Phlebitis is very painful and the inflammation may occur either in the superficial veins or in the deep veins. Superficial phlebitis is the condition in which the upper layer of the veins gets inflamed and it can be easily treated by topical ointments that reduce inflammation. But phlebitis that occurs in the deep veins is called deep vein thrombosis that affects the veins found deep inside the legs and arms. In rare cases, the blood clots that develop on the veins may move towards the lungs causing dangerous situation like pulmonary embolism.
Phlebitis that is superficial is caused when a catheter (venflon) is inserted into the vein or when a person is put on intravenous catheter. In this case, the superficial vein gets inflamed and irritated. The condition of varicose veins in the legs also belongs to superficial phlebitis.
Deep vein thrombosis is caused by trauma or injury to the legs or due to inactivity for long time. This happens when a person is destined to bed due to some disease which would arrest the movement of his legs and arms. Here the blood slowly begins to clot since the person remains inactive for long time. This is also caused due to abnormal blood clotting that is inherited by birth.
Who are at risk ?
People who are over-weight (obese) and individuals who are inactive for prolonged period (bedridden or long journey on a plane or car without any movement) are prone to deep vein phlebitis. Women who are pregnant are also under the risk of getting blood clot in their veins since the enlarged size of the uterus would compress the veins of the pelvic region.
People who take treatment for cancer and other blood disorders can also get phlebitis. Similarly people who smoke frequently and those using contraceptive pills are also under the risk.
The affected leg or arm will develop tenderness and the area becomes red in color. Slowly there will be inflammation of the leg or arm indicating the swelling of superficial veins. The skin becomes swollen and itchy and the affected area will give burning sensation. The pain and discomfort will be intense during mornings. Some people may develop fever and breakdown of skin in the affected area.
There would be inflammation of the vein for all people who are put on IV fluids for long time. The surrounding area of the skin may look swollen and warm due to the inflammation of the vein.
Your doctor will look for the above symptoms and physically examine the body to ascertain the illness. For diagnosing deep vein thrombosis blood clot testing (D-dimer) may be done or ultrasound scan is done.
Pictures of Phlebitis :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Phlebitis
For treating superficial type of phlebitis you can apply warm or cold compress on the affected leg or arm. For treating inflammation and pain you can take medications like Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs. For getting temporary relief you can also wear leg stockings for improving the blood flow and reducing the vein inflammation.
In case of deep vein phlebitis, your doctor will give medications for reducing swelling and pain. In case of skin infection, antibiotics are prescribed. For severe form of deep vein thrombosis, anticoagulation is done for thinning the blood content. In case of life threatening conditions like pulmonary embolism, the patient will have to be hospitalized and given lovenox injection along with coumadrin and the situation is monitored continuously.
You can prevent from getting phlebitis by doing regular exercise and indulging in sports activities like cycling and swimming. In case you are traveling for long hours, you should get up and walk for few minutes before continuing the journey. For bed ridden people it is advised to change position and wear stockings to prevent vein inflammation.
Individuals who are on IV fluids for long should change positions of catheter to prevent phlebitis.