Superficial Thrombophlebitis

What is superficial thrombophlebitis?

Superficial thrombophlebitis (ST or SVT) is a condition in which inflammation causes a blood clot to form in a vein near the surface of the body. Often it develops in varicose veins, usually in the leg or arm. Varicose veins are enlarged veins close to the surface.

How does it occur?

ST occurs when a clot forms in a vein because blood flow in the vein slows down or stops. ST can occur after minor injury to a vein, for example, after a bruise or after you have had an IV (medicine or fluid given through a vein). It can also occur after intense exercise.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis may include:

  • tender cordlike vein that is very sensitive to touch or pressure  

  • redness and warmth in the area around the vein  

  • swelling in the area around the vein.  

How is it diagnosed?

Your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. He or she will usually be able to determine if you have ST from the physical exam. In some cases you may have special ultrasound or X-ray studies to check for clots in deeper veins, which are more serious than problems with the superficial veins.

How is it treated?

Your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider may recommend that you:

  • Take an anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.  

    • o.Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.  

    • o.Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days for any reason.  

  • Put warm, moist compresses on the inflamed area. Be careful to avoid burns. If you are using a heating pad, do not lie on it.  

  • Wear compression stockings because they help keep the blood flowing normally through the legs.  

Your provider may prescribe a blood thinner medicine, especially if you are at increased risk for developing a blood clot in a deep vein.

How long will the effects last?

With proper treatment, ST usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.  

  • Ask your healthcare provider how much you should be up and walking around and how much you should rest in bed. Ask how you should increase your activity while you are being treated.  

  • If you have varicose veins, ask your healthcare provider if you should wear special support stockings. Ask your provider what type of stockings you may need, when you should start using them, and how often you should wear them.  

How can I help prevent ST?

Because ST usually results from injury or illness, it is hard to prevent