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Superficial Thrombophlebitis


  • Superficial (soo-per-FISH-al) thrombophlebitis (throm-bo-fle-BEYE-tis), also called STP, is a condition where there is inflammation (swelling) in the superficial veins. The superficial veins (blood vessels just under the skin) bring blood from your body back to your heart. STP occurs when a blood clot forms inside a superficial vein causing it to become inflamed or infected. STP often appears in the legs, but may also be seen in the arms. STP may happen after an injury to the vein or when there is a decrease in blood flow. Blood conditions that cause clots to form faster than normal may also lead to STP. Having varicose veins, not moving for long periods, or smoking may increase your risk of developing STP.
  • You may have redness, swelling, or pain in the area of the blood clot. The vein may feel tender or hard like a cord and the skin may feel hot or warm. You may also have a fever. A detailed health history and physical exam may help diagnose STP. Tests, such as blood tests or a doppler scan, may be done. Treatment of STP aims to treat the cause, stop the clot from getting bigger, and prevent further problems. This may include use of compression stockings, medicines, and procedures to remove or close varicose veins. With treatment, such as medicine, more serious problems of STP may be prevented, and your quality of life improved.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Compression stockings:

These are tight elastic stockings that put pressure on your legs. The pressure is highest in the toe and decreases as it goes up towards the thighs. Wearing pressure stockings may help push blood back up to the heart and keep clots from forming. Ask your caregiver for more information on using compression stocking for STP.

Wellness hints:

  • Apply heat over the affected vein: Applying heat over the affected vein may help ease pain or decrease swelling. Use a warm compress or a heating pad. A warm moist compress is a small towel dampened with hot water and placed in a plastic bag. Wrap a towel around the plastic bag to prevent burns. Be careful when using a heating pad. Keep it on low at all times. Do not sleep on a heating pad because it may cause a bad burn.
  • Elevate your legs: Put your feet up above the level of your heart for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day. This will help blood to flow back to the heart.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Talk to your caregiver about your ideal body weight. Weighing too much can make your heart work harder and can increase pressure in your leg veins. Ask your caregiver about a weight loss and exercise plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.
  • Move your legs: Move your legs as often as possible. Standing for long periods of time can cause the blood to pool in your legs. Pooling means that the blood collects and stays down in your legs for a long time before returning to your heart. Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Try to walk around a few minutes for every hour of sitting down. A short walk gets the blood moving in your legs.

For more information:

Having superficial thrombophlebitis may be hard for you. Contact the following for more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:


  • You have a fever.
  • Your skin becomes itchy, swollen, or develops a rash after taking your medicine.
  • Your symptoms keep you from doing your daily activities.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.


  • You get new symptoms or old symptoms return after you have been treated.
  • Your legs, feet, arms, or hands are turning pale, or become cold or hot.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

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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.