Related Terms :
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Saphenous Thrombophlebitis
- Superficial Phlebitis
The term phlebitis refers to an inflammation of a vein, usually in the leg, frequently accompanied by blood clots that adhere to the wall of the vein. When the affected vein is close to the surface, the condition is called superficial phlebitis. This condition usually resolves on its own without further complications. However, when phlebitis occurs in a deep vein, a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot could dislodge from the vein and lodge in the lungs. This is a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms of superficial phlebitis include pain, swelling, redness, and warmth around the affected vein. The vein feels hard to the touch because of the clotted blood.
Deep vein thrombosis is harder to diagnose. It can occur without any symptoms until the clot reaches the lungs. However, in about half of the cases, there are warning symptoms including swelling, pain, and warmth in the entire calf, ankle, foot, or thigh (depending on where the involved vein is located). Although these symptoms can also be caused by more benign conditions, deep vein thrombosis is such a life-threatening disorder that physician consultation is necessary.
Risk factors for any type of phlebitis include recent surgery or childbirth, varicose veins, inactivity, or sitting for long periods (such as on a long airplane ride). Prolonged placement of intravenous catheters can also cause phlebitis, possibly requiring antibiotic treatment.
Conventional treatments for superficial phlebitis include analgesics for pain, warm compresses, and compression bandages or stockings to increase blood flow. In more severe cases, anticoagulants or minor surgery may be required.
Deep vein thrombosis requires more aggressive treatment, including hospitalization, strong anticoagulants, and a variety of possible surgical procedures.
Proposed Natural Treatments for Phlebitis/DVT
There are no well-established natural treatments for phlebitis. There is some evidence, however, that certain natural treatments might help prevent DVTs.
Note: Because phlebitis is a potentially life-threatening disorder, you should seek a doctor's advice before attempting any natural treatments. The presence of DVTs constitutes a medical emergency and requires immediate medical care.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full OPC article.
Horse chestnut is often used for chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins , conditions related to phlebitis. For this reason, horse chestnut is sometimes recommended for phlebitis as well, but there is as yet no real evidence that it works.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/72/2014 -