Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of a vein close to the skin surface. It happens most often in the leg. The condition is easily treatable. But, it can lead to more serious health problems.
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Superficial thrombophlebitis is more common in women. The risk is higher in those aged 60 years or older. Other things that raise the risk are:
- History of vein problems or blood clotting problems
- Long term bed rest or sitting
- An IV, injury, or recent surgery
- Certain cancers
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Immune system problems
Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis may be:
- A vein that looks like a cord
- Redness, warmth, and tenderness around the vein
- Swelling around the vein
It can lead to problems such as:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Imaging tests will be done to diagnose the condition. They may include:
Superficial thrombophlebitis often goes away on its own in a few weeks. If needed, treatment may involve:
- Wearing compression stockings—to improve blood flow in legs
- Medicines such as:
- NSAIDs, like ibuprofen—to ease pain and inflammation
- Blood thinners
- Procedures to remove the blood clot—if the problem gets worse or returns
The risk of having this problem may be lowered by:
- Walking around the cabin every hour—when flying
- Pulling over every hour or so and stretching—when driving long distances
American College of Phlebology http://www.phlebology.org
Society for Vascular Surgery https://vascular.org
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery https://vascular.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Heit JA, Spencer FA, White RH. The epidemiology of venous thromboembolism. J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2016;41(1):3-14.
Superficial vein thrombosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/superficial-vein-thrombosis-svt. Accessed July 21, 2021.
Superficial venous thrombosis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular-disorders/peripheral-venous-disorders/superficial-venous-thrombosis. Accessed July 21, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
- Review Date: 07/2021
- Update Date: 07/21/2021