Blood clot in the calf is a common complaint, while it can also occur in different parts of your body including thighs, arms and hands. The formation of blood clot in the calf is also medically termed as DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis or Clot. The most common cause of a blood clot in the calf is immobility. In some cases, the condition may turn into serious, especially if the blood clot breaks and travels to the lungs or other parts of the system. However, this can be prevented with anticoagulation treatment procedures.
The deep veins in the calf are considered to be the larger veins in the body that run through the muscles of thighs and calf. After the formation of blood clot in the calf, the blood flow in vein gets affected. Calf vein is the most common area where DVT can occur.
Causes of Blood Clot in the Calf
The most common cause of a blood clot in the calf is immobility. Due to immobility the blood flow is hampered and due to slow flowing of blood you develop blood clot in the calf. After a surgery your legs remain still for hours due to anesthesia. The blood flow in the calf veins becomes slow and this can lead to blood clot in the calf. Injury or illness can also make you immobile and thus, increase the risk of blot clot formation in the calf. Plaster after a fracture can make you immobile and in this condition you are at great risk of developing blood clot in the calf region of your leg.
Damage of inside lining of the calf vein can also increase the chance of developing blood clot in the calf. Using contraceptive pills and undergoing hormone replacement therapy comprising estrogen may also increase the chances of blood clot in the calf.
Some of the other causes of developing blood clot in calf include:
- Cancer or Heart Failure.
- Dehydration or lack of fluid in body.
Symptoms of Blood Clot in the Calf
The blood clot that develops in the deep veins of calf usually have some common symptoms which include:
- Swelling in the calf.
- Tenderness in the calf.
- Pain in the calf.
- Temperature and color changes in the calf.
- Redness of the calf.
In some cases of blood clot in calf, there is no symptom and it can only be diagnosed when complications occur, for e.g. pulmonary embolus.
Treatment Options for Blood Clot in the Calf
Treatment of blood clot in the calf mainly aims at improving blood circulation and preventing formation of blood clot. This includes treatment with medicines, compression and regular movement.
Anticoagulation or treatment for thinning of blood is the most common treatment for blood clot in the calf. This treatment prevents the clot from getting larger and expanding in the calf. Anticoagulation medicines actually change the specific chemicals in blood that stop the blood clot formation easily. The medicine dissolves easily into the blood clot and prevents it from getting larger and forming new clots in the vein. Thereafter, the natural healing mechanism of your body starts working to break up the blood clot.
Patients with blood clot formation in the calf are often advised to wear the compression stockings as a part of treatment of blood clot in the calf. These stockings are also referred as compression hosiery or TED (Thromboembolic Deterrent Stockings). This process is proven to help people decrease the risk of developing blood clot in the calf. People with blood clot in the calf are ideally prescribed to wear compression stockings regularly for at least two years.
These compression stockings work efficiently by putting pressure from the external veins. This will press the blood in vein of the calf and it will lower down the pressure inside the vein. As a result, it will prevent blood clot from leaking into the surrounding tissues.
Prior to wearing the compression stockings, you are advised to undergo a medical test to ensure that the circulation of blood across the arteries of your calf is normal. The test will be done by a nurse with the help of an instrument called Doppler. It is used to gauge the present pressure in arteries.
Regular Walking and Raising your Leg Whilst Resting
Unless you are restricted by your doctor for walking, you need to walk regularly after you are discharged from the hospital. It is believed that walking improves circulation in the affected area of your calf and also decreases the chances of developing blood clot or DVT in the calf.
While resting it is important for you to keep your leg raised as much as possible. Keeping your legs lifted while resting will decrease the pressure in the calf veins and prevent blood clot from pooling in calves. Keeping the legs raised will keep them higher than your hips and the natural gravity will promote blood circulation. You may use recliner chair or sofa to keep your legs raised.
When you are on bed, you can raise your legs using pillows and enjoy sound and comfortable sleep. Ensure to keep your calf a bit higher than your hip while sleeping, which will prove to be helpful in removing the blood clot and restoring the natural blood flow.
If you have sudden cramps or pain in your legs or calf, then seek medical attention immediately to ensure that it is not a serious medical condition. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek medical opinion to find the most suitable treatment of blood clot in the calf.
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