Thrombophlebitis refers to the development of blood clots within one or more veins, often found in the legs. Superficial thrombophlebitis affects veins near the skin’s surface, while Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs in deeper veins within the muscles, posing significant health risks. Treatment typically involves blood-thinning medications to manage both types of thrombophlebitis effectively.

Blood clot in leg vein

A blood clot in a leg vein can result in pain, warmth, and tenderness in the affected region. Thrombophlebitis can be triggered by factors such as trauma, surgery, or extended periods of inactivity.

DVT elevates the risk of severe health complications and is typically managed with blood-thinning medications. Similarly, superficial thrombophlebitis may also be addressed with blood-thinning medications in some cases.


Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis encompass warmth, tenderness, and pain. Additionally, redness and swelling may occur, along with the presence of a tender, red, firm cord just beneath the skin’s surface. Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis involve swelling, tenderness, and pain in the leg.

For superficial DVT, symptoms are:

  • Tenderness, warmth, and soreness in the affected region
  • Swelling and redness

Signs and symptoms of DVT encompass:

  • Pain
  • Swelling

When a superficial vein near the skin’s surface is involved, you may observe a tender, red, firm cord just beneath the skin’s surface. Conversely, if a deep vein in the leg is affected, the leg can swell, become tender, and experience pain.

Seek immediate medical attention from your doctor if you notice a red, swollen, or tender vein, particularly if you have any risk factors for thrombophlebitis.

Call your emergency contact number or your local emergency number if:

  • You also experience chest pain, shortness of breath, blood in your cough, and other symptoms that could point to a blood clot in your lungs (pulmonary embolism).
  • The vein swelling and pain are quite severe.

If at all feasible, have someone drive you to the emergency room or doctor. You may find it difficult to drive, so having someone with you to assist you recall the information you are given is beneficial.


Thrombophlebitis arises from blood clot formation, triggered by factors like vein injury, inherited clotting disorders, or extended periods of immobility such as hospitalization or post-injury recovery. Various factors contribute to the onset of thrombophlebitis, including:

  • Vein damage
  • Hereditary blood-clotting problem
  • Extended periods of immobility, as following an injury or hospital stay

Risk factors

Increased risk of thrombophlebitis can occur with prolonged periods of inactivity or the placement of a catheter into a central vein for medical purposes. Conditions like varicose veins or having a pacemaker can also elevate risk. Women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or use certain medications like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may face heightened risk. Other contributing factors include a family history of clotting disorders, a tendency towards clot formation, previous instances of thrombophlebitis, history of stroke, age over 60, or being overweight. Cancer and smoking further increase the risk.

If you have any of these risk factors, it’s essential to discuss preventive measures with your doctor before long flights or road trips, or before undergoing elective surgery requiring immobility during recovery.