What Is A DVT And When Should You Visit A Doctor?

February 27th, 2019 Becki Andrus

If the blood that is progressing through your veins is moving too slowly, that can result in a clump of blood cells that is commonly referred to as a clot. If clots form inside a vein that is deep within your body, then the result is referred to as a DVT, which is the abbreviation for deep vein thrombosis. This medical condition can occur in several parts of your body, although the most likely locations are your thigh, lower leg, or pelvis.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one million American could be impacted by  DVTs every year, while 60,000-100,000 die from complications of a DVT or PE (pulmonary embolism) – which is a term for the blockage that can occur when a blood clot travels into the lungs. It is equally concerning that PEs are fatal for around 25% of all people who experience them.

It is important to know that deep vein thrombosis is very treatable if it is discovered early, and that there are steps that you can take to reduce your chances of having a DVT.

But it is also clear that if a DVT takes place, it can lead to a more serious health issue (pulmonary embolisms). For this reason, it is critical that you receive immediate medical attention if you appear to be experiencing the symptoms of DVT. 

Symptoms Of DVTs

Around 50% of people who are dealing with DVTs will not have any noticeable symptoms. However, there are definite warning signs that can take place including swelling, tenderness, or pain in the area where the DVT is located (usually the leg), and the skin that is located around the DVT can also be warm or red.

Causes Of DVTs

While the fact that you might not experience any symptoms could be concerning, it is helpful to be aware of the risk factors that are associated with DVTs. These include having a family history of this condition, or an existing condition that causes your blood to clot more easily than normal. Obesity can place you at risk of having a DVT, which is also true if you have damaged blood vessels.

Inactivity during a flight or a long drive as you travel is also a common cause of DVTs, although you can reduce the risk that is incurred with lengthy trips through walking and exercising, This will be discussed in the section that examines prevention of DVTs. Complications from an injury or a major injury can also cause DVTs.

Prevention Of DVTs

According to the CDC, the steps that you can undertake to help prevent the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis include moving around immediately if you have been sitting for a flight or car ride that will last four hours or longer. This involves making sure that you walk at least once every two hours.

There are also exercises that you can do while you are sitting during a long trip, such as raising and lowering your heels while your toes remain on the floor, then raising and lowering your toes with your heels remaining stationary on the floor. Tightening and relaxing your leg muscles is also helpful, as you also remember to walk at least every two hours as mentioned previously.

Compression hose, which can also be referred to as compression stockings can help reduce the risk of DVTs by improving the blood flow in your legs. This will decrease the likelihood of swelling, along with the formations of clots.

Symptoms Of PEs

If you have a DVT that eventually leads to a pulmonary embolism, the PE can emerge suddenly and create noticeable discomfort. It can quickly become difficult to breathe, and chest pain may also be experienced. Both the pain and the shortness of breath might increase as you attempt to breathe deeply, and could also occur as you bend or twist at the area of pain. Rapid or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fever, and excessive sweating are also warnings signs that you are dealing with a PE.

Causes Of PEs

It is important to review the relationship between a deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism that was mentioned previously, due to the serious nature of PEs. If a clot has formed in your leg, thigh or pelvis, and the clot eventually progresses into your lung, it becomes a critical situation. Nearly 40% of people who contend with deep vein thrombosis will also experience a pulmonary embolism. However, since some people never have any symptoms that signal a DVT, it is possible to find yourself in a situation in which you have a PE without being aware that you were vulnerable because you never had an indication of your DVT.

When To Visit A Doctor

You should seek immediate medical attention if you notice the symptoms of a DVT that were discussed earlier, which includes swelling in your leg, along with pain, tenderness, warmth or redness. A doctor will promptly examine your legs in order to determine the presence of a DVT and might order X-rays, a CT, an MRI, ultrasound or blood tests to check the location of clots and determine the amount of oxygen in your blood.

The most likely treatment for a DVT will be blood thinners, which are also referred to as anticoagulants, This treatment will be designed with the goal of reducing the risk of your clot becoming larger, and possibly moving into your lungs. ,

Your need for immediate medical care is also urgent if you experience the pain and shortness of breath that indicates a pulmonary embolism, due to the life-threatening nature of the situation. The examination and testing will be similar to what is experienced when your doctor is determining whether you have a DVT.

Anticoagulants will also be utilized, in order to prevent the clot from growing larger and to prohibit the formation of any new clots. Treatment will be immediate, and you may need to remain at the hospital or emergency care facility until your condition improves.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help

If you believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis, or have any questions or concerns about this condition, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates are ready to provide you with the expertise that can only result from their 183 combined years of experience. This is beneficial in their ability to design effective treatment plans for DVTs, along with any other issues that might be occurring with your leg, or knee.


Our specialists at Orthopedic Associates also treat a wide range of other knee conditions, including:

  • Anatomy of the Knee
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fractures of the Tibial Spine
  • Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
  • Hamstring Muscle Injuries
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
  • Patella Tendon Rupture
  • Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Patellar Tracking Disorder
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
  • Quadriceps Tendon Tear
  • Septic Arthritis of the Knee
  • Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
  • Tibial Fractures
  • Tibial Plateau Fracture
  • Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)

Even if leg or knee issues are not your primary concern, we also offer multiple solutions for a wide range of conditions – both with or without surgery. Visit one of Orthopedic Associates two locations or request an appointment today. We are fully committed to paving the path toward a pain-free life for you. 



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