Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a blood vessel. Blood clots usually occur in the leg vessels, but can also occur elsewhere in the body, for example in the arms. The most common cause of a blood clot is immobility. A complication can occur when a part of the blood clot breaks down and travels to the lungs (pulmonary embolism). This is usually prevented if you are given an anticoagulant treatment. A DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep leg vein. Veins are blood vessels that bring blood to the heart. Deep veins in the legs are the larger veins that pass through the muscles of the calf and thighs. It is therefore not the veins that are visible just under the skin, or the varicose veins. When you have a DVT, the blood flow in the vein is completely or partially blocked by the blood clot.
Normally the blood flows quickly through the veins, and in principle does not solidify. The circulation in the veins of the legs is stimulated by moving them, because the contraction of the muscles 'squeezes' the veins. Sometimes a DVT arises without demonstrable reasons. However, the following situations may increase the risk of a DVT:
A DVT usually occurs in a deep vein in the calf. The most common symptoms of DVT are:
Most people who develop a DVT are advised to wear support stockings. This treatment has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of recurrent DVT and may also reduce the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome. You must wear the stockings every day for at least two years. If a post-thrombotic syndrome develops, it may be advisable to wear the stockings for more than two years.
Note: after a DVT you first have to consult with your doctor which support stocking is best for you.
If you are advised to wear compression stockings, you should wear them immediately after getting up until you go to bed. The pressure of the stocking helps to prevent moisture from seeping into the calf tissues from the outer veins that carry the extra diverted blood after a DVT. The stocking reduces or prevents the calf from swelling. This reduces a lot of inconveniences and reduces the risk of skin ulcers.