Superficial Vein Thrombosis

Eyes Open to Superficial Vein Thrombosis

What is Superficial Vein Thrombosis?

Superficial vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in a vein located near the surface of the skin. Most superficial veins that develop thrombosis also have phlebitis, which is a term used for veins that are red, inflamed and painful. Often times it is is called superficial thrombophlebitis. 1, 2

These thromboses are not normally as serious as deep vein thrombosis; however they can become more serious if they are able to enter deep veins through the perforator veins – veins that connect the superficial veins to the deep veins

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Superficial Vein Thrombosis include:

  • Pain or tenderness and hardness in a vein
  • Feeling of increased warmth in the area of the clot
  • Red or discolored skin in the area of the clot
Superficial Vein Thrombosis Risk Factors

Signs and Symptoms

Superficial thrombophlebitis can be caused by an injury to the arm or leg veins, such as having an intravenous (IV) line; or the cause may not be known. Potential risk factors are the same as for those who have deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

View all Risk Factors

Treatment for Superficial Vein Thrombosis

The main goal when you begin treatment for superficial thrombophlebitis is to control pain and inflammation.

For pain:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
  • Warm compresses

For inflammation and swelling:

  • Leg elevation when you are resting
  • Compression stockings
  • Staying active and not sitting for too long

If the clot is close to a deep vein, a course of blood thinners is often given, to prevent the superficial vein thrombosis from developing into a DVT


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