How to Tell If You Have a Blood Clot in Your Leg
Leg pain is a common problem, especially in adults aged 65 and older. But, even though 50.3% of older adults have pain in their hips and legs, that doesn't mean it's normal. In fact, it could be a sign of a potentially dangerous problem: a blood clot.
Blood clots are a serious and growing problem in the United States, but the good news is they're treatable. One common sign of this problem involves leg pain.
Each of our team members at Valley Neurology and Pain has up to 25 years of experience diagnosing and treating pain conditions, including those affecting the legs. If you have leg pain, here are a few signs that you could have a blood clot.
When blood clots become a problem
A clot forms in your blood when two substances, platelets and fibrin, come together. Under normal circumstances, this occurs when you hurt a blood vessel, and your body forms a clot to plug the hole or cut to stop the bleeding. When this happens on your skin, the clot eventually turns into a crusty protective layer, or scab.
While blood clotting is a normal function that protects you when you get hurt, you can experience problems when they form where they shouldn't and don't dissolve on their own. When this happens, you can experience circulation problems, an issue that prevents oxygen from circulating in your body properly.
You can also experience life-threatening complications if a blood clot breaks free and starts moving through your bloodstream, because it can travel to your lungs or brain.
Blood clots can form in numerous parts of the body, such as:
They're also very common in leg veins, where they can trigger pain.
Signs your leg may have a blood clot
Technically, you should never ignore leg pain, especially if it interferes with your daily life. However, if you have leg pain that occurs while walking, you should schedule a consultation immediately.
This could indicate a blockage in one of your leg veins, either caused by a blood clot or because of plaque buildup — fatty deposits — in your blood vessels. Additional signs of a blood clot in the leg include:
- Pain or tenderness to the touch
- Pain that feels like a charley horse or severe muscle cramp
- Swelling that doesn't ease with icing or elevation
- Skin that looks reddish or bluish
Clots can affect anyone, but some people have higher risks than others. As a result, knowing your personal risks can also help you detect a problem as early as possible.
Risk factors for blood clots
Several factors can increase your chances of developing blood clots. The most common include being over age 65 or experiencing trauma, surgery, or lengthy hospital stays.
Your risks are also higher if you are:
- Pregnant, overweight, or obese
- Lead a sedentary lifestyle
- Smoke cigarettes
- Take hormone replacements or birth control pills
- Have cancer or past cancer treatment
- Have COVID-19
If you have a family history of blood clots — or conditions that make blood clots more likely — your risk of developing them will also be higher.
Fortunately, treatments exist for blood clots in the legs. Depending on the location of your clot and the risks it poses, we could recommend a variety of treatments, ranging from medications and compression stockings to surgical solutions.
Don't wait to schedule an appointment if you have leg pain. We can help.
At Valley Neurology and Pain, with three convenient Arizona locations in Phoenix and Peoria, you are never a number. Your consultation, examination, and treatment are always administered by a highly qualified physician. If you would like to schedule a leg pain consultation, we have experienced physicians who can help you, including Ruchir Gupta, MD, Norvan Vartevan, DO, and Patricia Henthorn, DC, DAAMUAP. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.