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What Does DVT in the Leg Feel like?

Determining whether you have a DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, can be a bit tricky. That’s because only about 50 percent of the people that develop a DVT realize they have it because they don’t have any symptoms. In other cases, they mistake DVT symptoms for another condition, such as vein problems. On the other hand, some individuals do receive clues they have a DVT.

Symptoms of DVT

Early signs of a DVT can be mild and become more persistent and bothersome over time. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis include:

  • Leg swelling (the most common sign of DVT)
  • Swelling in only one leg, rather than both
  • Tightness in the leg.
  • Throbbing in the leg.
  • A cramp-like feeling in the leg.
  • Feeling like you have a pulled muscle.
  • Pain when walking or standing.
  • Leg tenderness.
  • Redness or bluish tint to the affected area.

The affected area may feel warm, tender and painful as well. Unlike a pulled muscle, which gets better over time, DVT symptoms worsen.  You may feel like you have a charley horse, but again, it doesn’t go away.

DVTs typically occur in the leg, thigh, or pelvic region, but they can occur in the arm as well.

Factors That Increase the Risk of a DVT in the leg

Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing a DVT. These include:

  • Vein problems. This could include a vein injury from major surgery, trauma or broken bone.
  • Blood flow issues. This could be caused by prolonged sitting, extended bed rest or immobility from wearing a cast.
  • Taking hormones. This includes testosterone or estrogen, including postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills.
  • Having certain medical conditions. These include cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, clotting disorders or factor V Leiden
  • Having certain lifestyle factors. This includes being obese or smoking. Having a sedentary lifestyle or traveling for long periods in an airplane or a car also increases your risk.
  • Having a genetic predisposition. This includes having a family history of DVT.

Importance of Recognizing the Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis

A DVT should be promptly evaluated and you should receive proper vein treatment. A deep vein thrombosis may break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lung, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly 33 percent of individuals who have a DVT develop a long-term complication known as PTS, or post-thrombotic syndrome. This vein health problem is caused by damaged valves as a result of the blood clot.

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