You may have varicose veins / swollen leg veins for decades and they have not troubled you at all apart from the odd funny stares you get when you are out in shorts. Then out of nowhere, the swollen veins become hardened and extremely painful and tender to touch. The area around the swollen veins also feels warm and appeared inflamed.
What you have is called thrombophlebittis. This means that blood clot has formed inside the swollen veins (varicose veins) and this has caused inflammation to form around the area. The inflammation is often reactionary and may not mean you have bacterial infection.
Apart from being painful and tender, thrombophlebitis can also progress and give rise to the following problems
- Bacterial infection may set in and the area may developed into an abscess. The swelling will enlarge and you may begin to developed fever and feel unwell. At this stage the infected area will require surgical drainage
- Deep Vein thrombosis: The blood clot inside the swollen vein is by itself not dangerous. However, this clot can extend and clot may start to form inside the deep vein leading to the condition call Deep Vein Thrombosis. This is a more serious problem as the clot can dislodge and float to the lungs causing breathing distress which can be fatal in severe cases.
You should see a doctor if you suspect that you have thrombophlebitis of your swollen leg veins. Treatment for this condition includes
- Ultrasound examination is necessary to study the extend of the clot and also to exclude the presence of Deep Vein Thrombosis. This will also provide the baseline by which future scan can be compared to study progression.
- Antibiotics may be needed if there is evidence of bacterial infection
- Compression stocking is useful for symptom relief as well as to prevent progression
- Treat the varicose veins: