“I Think I Just Threw a Clot!”

medical monitor

Blood clots are serious business. It’s important to know the symptoms and risk factors of blot clots. However, it’s estimated that 30-50% of people who suffer blood clots have no prior symptoms. They have serious complications if they are not treated: if they dislodge they could cause a pulmonary embolism.

I did a little research on WebMD.com, one of my favorite medical information sites, and found the following list of symptoms of blood clots:

Symptoms occur in the affected leg when a clot obstructs blood flow and causes inflammation. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Swelling Gradual onset of pain
  • Redness
  • Warmth to the touch
  • Worsening leg pain when bending the foot
  • Leg cramps, especially at night
  • Bluish or whitish discoloration of skin

However, almost 30%-50% of individuals with deep vein thrombosis do not experience symptoms from the condition.

via Deep Vein Thrombosis Blood Clot in the Leg, DVT.

That last sentence is a key piece of information. For 1/3 to 1/2 of all people who have a blood clot there are no outward symptoms. That’s pretty scary.  Because of this, I also wanted to include some risk factors that may lead to deep vein thrombosis.

First of all, what causes the formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel:

Three factors may lead to formation of a clot inside a blood vessel.

  • Damage to the inside of a blood vessel due to trauma or other conditions
  • Changes in normal blood flow, including unusual turbulence, or partial or complete blockage of blood flow
  • Hypercoagulability, a rare state in which the blood is more likely than usual to clot

Any component that contributes to one or more of these three criteria can cause deep vein thrombosis. The more common risk factors are as follows:

  • Prolonged sitting, such as during a long plane or car ride
  • Prolonged bed rest or immobility, such as after injury or during illness (such as stroke)
  • Recent surgery, particularly orthopedic, gynecologic, or heart surgery
  • Recent trauma to the lower body, such as fractures of the bones of the hip, thigh, or lower leg
  • Obesity
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Recent childbirth
  • Being at very high altitude, greater than 14,000 feet
  • Use of estrogen replacement (hormone therapy, or HT) or birth control pills
  • Cancer
  • Rare inherited genetic changes in certain blood clotting factors
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a medical condition in which blood clotting occurs inappropriately, usually caused by overwhelming infection or organ failure
  • Certain heart or respiratory conditions
  • Advanced age

If an individual has one deep vein thrombosis, they are more likely to have a second deep vein thrombosis.

via Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clot in the Leg, DVT). (my emphasis)

This is important for massage therapists, as massage effects the circulation in the legs when strokes are used on the tissue. Massage could even dislodge a blood clot in the legs if deep, vigorous strokes are used. Be aware of your own body, any trauma to the legs and take note of any DVT symptoms in your legs immediately.

Let your massage therapist know if you have any of the symptoms of DVT or if you’re at risk given the factors listed above.  See your physician immediately if you have any symptoms of a blood clot.

Photo from user hamma at sxc.hu

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