Everything you need to know about deep vein thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the vein, most commonly occurring in the veins in the calf. Many people will be familiar with this term in relation to long-haul flights, but there are a number of other risk factors including:

  • inactivity from injury or occupation
  • pregnancy
  • smoking
  • heart disease
  • oral contraceptive pills
  • a family history of DVTs

One key concern with a DVT is that it can result in pulmonary embolism. This is when the blood clot breaks off from the leg vein and travels up to the pulmonary artery which can cause blockage affecting the lungs.

Symptoms that you have a DVT may include:
  • pain and tenderness in the lower leg
  • pain when flexing your ankle
  • swelling in the lower leg, ankle and foot
  • red and warm skin on your leg
What should you do if you think you have a DVT?
  • A DVT is diagnosed using Doppler ultrasound
  • It is best to see you GP as soon as possible to organise this scan
  • Your physiotherapist can refer you to your GP if needed
How to minimise your risk of DVT
  • Avoid smoking
  • Minimise alcohol consumption especially when travelling
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Move about whenever possible before, during and after travelling
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed
  • Perform leg and foot exercises while seated to encourage circulation
  • Wear compression socks when travelling or if inactive for long periods
  • See your doctor before travelling if you are worried
Circulation Exercises

Lucy has prepared this handy sheet of exercises that you can use to help prevent DVT, particularly when travelling long distances. Try to perform 10 reps of each of these exercises every hour during your trip.

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