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Superficial Thrombophlebitis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Superficial thrombophlebitis (STP) is inflammation of a vein just under your skin (superficial vein). The inflammation causes a blood clot to form in your vein. STP most often happens in your leg but may also happen in your arm.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your leg or arm turns pale or blue.
  • Your leg or arm feels hot or cold.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Contact your healthcare provider or hematologist if:

  • Your symptoms return after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics may be given to treat a bacterial infection.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
    • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
    • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
    • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
      • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
      • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms and prevent STP:

STP can increase your risk for a blood clot in deeper veins in your arms or legs. It can also increase your risk for a blood clot in your lungs. Do the following to decrease your risk for more blood clots and manage your symptoms:

  • Wear pressure stockings as directed. Pressure stockings improve blood flow and help prevent clots in your legs. Wear the stockings during the day. Do not wear them when you sleep.

  • Elevate your leg or arm above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg or arm on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Apply a warm compress to your arm or leg. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Wet a washcloth in warm water. Do not use hot water. Apply the warm compress for 10 minutes. Repeat this 4 times each day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This will help decrease your risk for another blood clot. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can damage blood vessels and increase your risk for blood clots. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Stay active. Activity helps prevent blood clots. Do not sit for more than an hour. If you travel by car or work at a desk, move and stretch in your seat several times each hour. In an airplane, get up and walk every hour. Exercise your legs while you are sitting by raising and lowering your heels. Keep your toes on the floor while you do this. You can also raise and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the floor. Also tighten and release your leg muscles while you are sitting.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help increase your blood flow and prevent a blood clot. Walking is a good low-impact exercise. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Do not inject illegal drugs. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use IV drugs and need help to quit.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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