Anyone who has ever had a blood clot in the legs knows that it’s an uncomfortable, painful condition that could have lasting effects. A blood clot that forms deep inside the leg may be harmful if it ruptures and travels via the veins to the heart and lungs. A clot in an artery, which transports oxygen to the body’s cells, may disrupt normal blood circulation and result in life-threatening events such as a heart attack or stroke.
Each year, over 900,000 Americans are diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (a venous clot that affects the lungs). This kind of blood clot is responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. Consult your doctor promptly if you are concerned that you may have a blood clot.
What are Blood Clots?
A blood clot is a small, solid mass of blood that forms in the circulating blood. Blood clots are often seen as an indication that something is wrong with the lungs or heart because they can reduce or stop oxygen from reaching organs. It’s estimated that around 270,000 people die each year due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Roughly two-thirds of these deaths are aged 65-74, and approximately one-third are between 35-64 years old.
As the heart pumps blood via arteries to different regions of the body, blood circulates through blood vessels (arteries and veins) and is always in motion (organs, glands, and cells). The veins then return the blood to the heart. The body’s motion returns blood to the heart. Muscles return blood to the heart by squeezing it via the veins. Without movement, blood tends to stagnate due to gravity, and stagnant blood tends to clot. An organ may be damaged fast if a clot restricts the flow of blood.
Blood clots are classified as being either deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). When a clot blocks blood flow in a vein, the symptoms are often referred to as venous thromboembolism (VTE), which is the technical description for blood clots in veins. In circulation, many systems exist to generate clots where they are required. When the lining of the blood arteries is damaged, platelets are recruited to form an initial clog. Through the use of a series of clotting factors generated by the body, these activated platelets release substances that initiate a clotting cascade. Finally, fibrin is generated, a protein that self-crosslinks to create the final blood clot mesh.
A blood clot is referred to medically as a thrombus (plural = thrombi). When a thrombus forms as part of the body’s regular mending process, there are few consequences. When a thrombus (blood clot) grows in an unneeded location, it might have serious repercussions.
Just because you stand all day at work doesn’t mean you have to suffer from foot pain. By investing in a pair of comfortable shoes, trying out insoles, and using compression socks, you may experience less discomfort while standing. Switching positions, light exercise, and stretching can also help alleviate pain. Check out these tips for making standing all day easier.
Can Standing Cause Blood Clots?
Long durations of standing may develop blood clots, which can lead to significant complications. When you stand for an extended amount of time, the weight of your feet compresses your veins, increasing the risk of blood clot development. If you think that standing at work all day is not the best idea, consider sitting on a lower stool or even using a standing desk. By switching up your movements and sitting more often during breaks, you can help prevent clots from forming in your lower legs. When blood congeals, a blood clot forms. If this occurs inside a person’s body, particularly their leg, it might result in serious complications. Certain blood clots are particularly harmful because they may migrate to the lungs, resulting in a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), swelling, red skin, soreness in the leg, and the leg feeling warm to the touch are all indications of a blood clot in the leg. To summarize, deep vein thrombosis is the result of the development of a blood clot in a bigger vein, as explained by the CDC (DVT). According to the AHRQ, blood clots are more prone to form when a person is unable to move about much. This may occur as a result of surgery, an accident, or prolonged sitting, such as on a long-haul trip.
Warning Signs of a Blood Clot In Your Legs
Blood clots may present with a variety of symptoms, including the following:
- Swelling, which may occur directly in the area where blood clots form or across the legs.
- Leg discomfort is a frequent sign of DVT. The discomfort may be subtle or severe.
- A pleasant experience. Your legs may seem colder than the rest of your body because of the difference in surface temperature.
- Legs that change color. Your legs may be flushed or itch.
- Cramps in the legs
You may have no symptoms at all, depending on the size of the clots. You may simply have modest leg swelling without significant discomfort. However, if the clot is left untreated, it may expand, become bloated, and cause excruciating agony.
If you experience pain in the buttocks while walking, it could be a sign of a blood clot in your legs. To understand what causes and how to treat this condition, check out this comprehensive guide on Pain in Buttocks When Walking: Causes and Treatments.
The Risk Factors of Blood Clot In Your Legs
Extensive standing, varicose veins, previous heart attack or stroke, certain cholesterol or diabetes control drugs, past lower-leg surgery in the afflicted region, and being overweight are all factors that increase your chance of a blood clot in your legs. Blood clots are a medical emergency that can cause serious complications if not promptly detected and addressed. Learn more about the risks associated with blood clots so you can be proactive in preventing them when they do arise.
Risk factors for a blood clot include:
- Over 60 years of age
- Sitting or standing for extended periods of time. Maintaining the same posture over extended periods of time without forcing the muscles to contract. Contracting muscles are necessary for blood flow.
- Being exposed to a sedentary lifestyle.
- Obese. It is critical to maintaining a healthy weight range. Excess weight may exacerbate the strain on the veins in your legs and pelvis.
- Pregnant. Pregnancy significantly increases the risk of blood clots due to increased weight, increased blood volume, and hormonal changes. Women who inherit a clotting problem are at an increased risk. Up to six weeks after birth, you continue to have a risk of blood clots from pregnancy.
- Have a history of blood clots in your family.
- Utilization of particular contraceptives or hormone replacement treatment.
- Just spent a night in the hospital after major surgery.
- Possess cancer. Certain types of cancer produce an increase in certain compounds in the blood, which results in the production of blood clots. Certain types of cancer therapies may potentially raise the risk of blood clots.
Common Causes of Blood Clots in the Leg
Blood clots occur when the lining of a blood vessel, either an artery or a vein, is damaged. The injury may be evident, such as a cut or laceration, or it may be hidden from view. Blood will also begin to clot if it gets stagnant or if it is affected by an illness that causes the blood to clot abnormally. Blood clots in veins (venous thrombosis) arise when a person becomes immobile, and his or her muscles are unable to contract to return blood to the heart. This pooled blood starts to form tiny clots along the vein walls. This first clot may expand to totally or partly block (occlude) the vein, preventing blood from returning to the heart.
It is common to have one or more blood clots in the leg. A clot can form in the veins of the leg for various reasons, including sitting or standing too long without moving, obesity, use of birth control pills, and medical conditions. Many people are not aware that it is possible to have blood clots in your leg. Although a blood clot in the leg is not a serious health problem, it can be painful and uncomfortable.
One cause of blood clots in the leg is sitting or standing for too long without moving. Long periods of sitting can make clots more likely because when you are inactive, blood tends to pool in the veins of your legs. Your body will be able to develop clots in your legs more easily as a result of this. This ceases when you stand up and walk about, and your body is more likely to expel the clot. Being overweight can also increase the chance of having clots in your legs. When you weigh too much, your blood moves more slowly through your body, which makes it more likely for clots to form in the veins of your legs. Birth control pills can increase the chance of getting a blood clot in the leg because some birth control pills contain estrogen, which can increase the risk of forming blood clots in the veins of your legs.
When To See a Vein Doctor
A person who feels they have DVT should contact their doctor right once, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteTrusted Source. This is because DVT may result in pulmonary embolism, a condition in which a blood clot travels to the lung.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include the following:
- Discomfort associated with breathing
- Fast respiration
- Accelerated heartbeat
- A pulmonary embolism is a potentially fatal ailment that needs prompt medical care.
If you experience leg pain while walking, it can be a sign of poor blood flow or other vein-related problems. To get a proper diagnosis, you should consult a vein doctor. They can help identify the root cause of your pain and recommend the appropriate treatment.
How To Prevent a Blood Clot In The Legs
A blood clot in the legs generally occurs when an atherosclerotic plaque ruptures and the fibrin absorbs into the bloodstream. The wound is usually small, often occurring unnoticed until it becomes sizeable. Smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or pregnancy are all risk factors for a blood clot in the legs. Primary risk factors for complications due to a blood clot in your leg include; decreased foot movement (e.g., due to diabetes or sneezing) and easy bruising or bleeding.
See also: Guide To Prevent Blood Clots
A person could try:
Avoid Long Hours of Sitting or Standing
Extended durations of sitting or standing are a significant risk factor for deep vein thrombosis. Every 30 minutes, move or flex your ankles and knees to promote blood flow.
Lead an Active Lifestyle
Sedentary behavior might impair leg circulation and result in the formation of blood clots in the legs. It is extremely important to be active during pregnancy. Due to the increased blood volume, weight gain, and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, pregnancy places extra strain on the leg veins. Take frequent walks or engage in low-intensity exercises such as swimming, jogging, or yoga. Additionally, sleeping on your left side might aid improve blood circulation during pregnancy.
To maintain a healthy weight, it is important to lead an active lifestyle. Alternating between running and walking can be a great way to improve cardiovascular health, burn calories and improve endurance. This low-impact exercise can be easily incorporated into a daily routine and can lead to long term health benefits.
Drinking More Water
The body retains fluid when it is dehydrated, resulting in swelling of the legs, feet, and ankles. If you’re traveling or flying for an extended period of time, remember to drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating beverages such as coffee, alcohol, or soda.
Wearing Compression Stockings
Compression stockings are tight garments that are designed to restrict blood flow in the legs. Compression stockings are worn by people with circulatory problems to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the legs or stomach. Ideally, compression stockings should be worn while traveling on a plane for an extended period of time. Compression stockings promote leg circulation and aid in the prevention of blood clots in the legs. Compression stockings should be recommended by a vein expert.
Related: Use Compression Stockings for DTV
Elevating Your Legs Before Sleeping
If you are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, elevate your legs before bedtime. Elevating your legs will increase blood flow and prevent swelling.
To further alleviate the risk of blood clots in your legs, consider elevating them before sleeping. This simple act can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. Try these 8 inner thigh toning exercises to help you elevate your legs and improve blood circulation.
Adjusting Your Diet
If you are at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, it is important to monitor your diet. Avoid consuming alcohol, red meat, fatty foods, dairy products, and tea. Food that promotes clotting should also be avoided. You should Consume high-fiber food and Add fruit-bearing plants that are rich in flavonoids.
Related: Foods that may help prevent DVT
Treatment of Blood Clot In The Legs
Treatment options for blood clots vary according to an individual’s general health and the location of the clot.
Typically, a physician will prescribe anticoagulant drugs, often referred to as blood thinners. These drugs inhibit the formation of new clots in the body while also preventing existing clots from growing in size. Anticoagulant drugs are often used during the first 5–10 days after the diagnosis of a blood clot. This is sometimes called the “bridging therapy.”
When an emerging blood clot is found in a deep vein or in a blood vessel near the heart, catheter-directed thrombolysis with the drug alteplase is often used to try to dissolve the clot. Certain individuals may need to continue taking anticoagulants for weeks, months, or even years to prevent the recurrence of clots.
For more detail, please research on Blood Thinners.
Anticoagulant medications, also known as blood thinners, can help prevent blood clots in individuals at risk. A study published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery found anticoagulant therapy reduced the risk of blood clots for those with abdominal/pelvic cancers. If you experience abdominal pain while walking or standing, it is recommended to seek medical advice and consult your doctor about the possibility of taking anticoagulant medications to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot. Abdominal pain
Thrombolytics are medications that break up blood clots. A doctor may administer a thrombolytic intravenously or through a catheter inserted into a vein, which allows the medicine to be delivered directly to the location of the clot. However, thrombolytics may raise the risk of bleeding. Doctors often suggest them only for patients with really big clots or clots that do not dissolve with anticoagulant therapy. These medications may also be considered for those who suffer from chronic and severe PTS.
Read more on Catheter-directed Thrombolysis.
Surgical thrombectomy is a procedure aimed at improving functional leg circulation by opening a narrowed vein, a varicose vein, or a leg clot. The procedure involves an incision in the skin and a brief puncture of the blood vessel wall. In some cases, surgical thrombectomy may be used to relieve pain from blood clots that arise from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which occurs when veins cannot expand normally.
Read more on Surgical Thrombectomy
Vena Cava Filters
The vena cava is a major vein located in the belly. It is responsible for returning blood from the lower body to the heart and lungs. A DVT in the legs may sometimes spread to the lungs through the vena cava. When a blood clot travels to the lungs and obstructs blood flow, this is referred to as a pulmonary embolism (PE). To prevent clots from flowing through the vein, a surgeon may put a filter into the vena cava. The filter is inserted by a tiny incision in a vein in the neck or groin. A sequence of X-rays assists the surgeon in positioning the filter appropriately inside the vena cava. Generally, doctors reserve this operation for patients who are at high risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism or who are unable to take anticoagulants.
Read more on Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement
How do you get rid of a blood clot in your leg?
It is very important to get rid of a blood clot as soon as possible. This can be done by going to the hospital, or you can do it at home with these tips. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit your doctor. A blood clot in your leg is a medical emergency that requires quick medical treatment.
Should I be worried about a blood clot in my leg?
If you are walking or are having problems walking because of swelling in your upper body, your doctor may say you have a blood clot in your leg. A blood clot is a potentially fatal disorder. If not treated promptly with medicine or surgery, it might result in irreversible damage to the blood vessels. If you have a blood clot in your leg, it is very important to get medical care as soon as possible. An early diagnosis can help save your leg from amputation.
What is the leading cause of blood clots?
Trauma is the number one cause of blood clots. Lots of people get injured or die due to trauma each year. You can also get a blood clot in your leg if you have surgery or keep getting sick.
Standing or sitting for long periods can increase the risk of blood clots. According to a study by Hood MWR, the stationary position can cause the blood to pool in the legs and also slows down blood flow. This can lead to clotting and swelling. So, it’s crucial to stretch your legs and move your body frequently if you’re going to be standing or sitting for extended periods of time.
What causes legs to swell?
Swelling in your legs can be caused by many things, including swelling in your legs when you are sick, swelling when you break a bone, or even staying in bed too long because of an injury or illness.
What disease causes blood clots in the legs?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). A blood clot in the legs is known as a thrombosis, and the greatest risk factor for developing DVT is blockage of flow. This can happen if your circulation is obstructed due to an injury or surgery, or by staying in bed too long after surgery, giving birth, or other reasons.
Can prolonged standing cause DVT?
Prolonged standing can cause blood clots in your legs when you are standing or sitting for too long; your blood pools in the lower part of your legs. The longer you stay seated, the greater your risk of developing an obstructed vein.
Does standing prevent blood clots?
After standing for a long time, the blood in your legs should be redistributed back to the upper part. This can occur when there is no obstruction in the blood flow, like when you sit down.
Is standing bad for circulation?
Standing is not bad for your circulation. Standing is not harmful to your circulation, but it can lead to blood clots in the legs if you are standing for too long. That’s why doctors tell people not to sit/stand for too long.
If you are experiencing itchy feet after standing all day, it could be a sign of poor circulation. Check out Hood MWR’s article on treatments for itchy feet to learn how to improve your circulation for greater comfort.
Does a blood clot hurt when standing?
It won’t hurt when standing, but you will develop pain when sitting down. If you are standing for too long, it can lead to blood clots in your legs. This is because there is no movement in your legs to let the blood flow back up to the upper part of the body.