Is the skin on your leg red, warm and does it look inflamed? What you might be experiencing is Superficial Thrombophlebitis – an inflammation, thrombosis or infection of superficial veins. Superficial veins are the veins just below the surface of the skin and the condition itself can occur in the neck, arms, but most typically the legs. It can affect both women and men, but just as is the case of many other venous disorders, women are more prone to develop superficial thrombophlebitis than men.
The actual incidence of superficial thrombophlebitis is not clear, but according to reports up 125,000 Americans are affected each year. To confirm the diagnosis, a medical examination together with a variety of tests (Doppler ultrasound, duplex ultrasound, venography, etc.) must be performed, but the general symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis are pretty obvious:
- Redness, inflammation and warmth of the skin and tissue around the vein
- Pain and tenderness
- Skin darkening
There are some common risk factors and medical conditions that contribute to the development of superficial thrombophlebitis:
- Increasing age
- Birth control pill
- Prolonged sitting or immobilization
- Varicose veins
- Blood clotting disorders
- Recent IV or injection into a vein
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Various types of cancers
The treatment of superficial thrombophlebitis involves compression stockings, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain, and anticoagulation when there’s potential risk of deep vein thrombosis. As you can see, varicose veins are one of the contributing factors of superficial thrombophlebitis, so if you suffer from varicose veins now, it is advisable to get them treated as soon as possible to prevent superficial thrombophlebitis from developing. After all, superficial thrombophlebitis can permanently damage your venous system and evolve into much more serious conditions such as DVT or pulmonary embolism, which can potentially be fatal.