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Pregnancy Problems

Thrombophlebitis During Pregnancy

What the heck is thrombophlebitis anyhow? And how can you prevent and treat it? We've got answers.

What is thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Thrombophlebitis is the inflammation of a blood vessel caused by a clot. You're more prone to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) — which is clot deep in a vein, usually in a leg or arm — during pregnancy. If the clot swells, that's thrombophlebitis.

What are the signs of thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Pain is the main symptom. If you have severe pain in one limb report it to your doc immediately. The danger is that the clot could dislodge and cause problems in your body.

Other symptoms include warmth, tenderness and swelling.

Are there any tests for thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

A physical exam with or without an ultrasound of the affected limb can diagnose thrombophlebitis. 

How common is thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Thrombophlebitis is more common in pregnant than non-pregnant women, but it’s still rare (think one to two cases per 1,000 pregnancies).

How did I get thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Pregnant women are more susceptible to clots than non-pregnant women and smoking increases that risk. Sitting or standing for long periods increases the risk, too.

How will my thrombophlebitis affect my baby?

It probably won’t. With treatment, most cases get better, with no harm to baby.

What’s the best way to treat thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Elevate your leg as much as possible and apply a warm compress. Your doc may prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory that can help, or find that blood-thinning medication (usually heparin) may be necessary (see next page for prevention, resources and more tips).

What can I do to prevent thrombophlebitis during pregnancy?

Switch positions every hour or so, since sitting and/or standing too long can cause blood to pool in the legs, and can increase your odds of developing a clot. Quitting smoking can also decrease the risk of thrombophlebitis.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have thrombophlebitis?

“My doc said I have a case of Superficial Thrombophlebitis. He said not to worry, to elevate my leg and use a heat compress.”

“The NP thinks [I have] Thrombophlebitis especially because of my knee pain, but she was a little concerned because I felt pain in the calf when she flexed my foot, so they set up a ‘stat’ ultrasound.”

“I recently was having some shin pain that wouldn’t go away and so, after a visit to my GP, I was diagnosed with thrombophlebitis (basically inflammation of the blood vessels under the inside of my right shin). I took two weeks off from running, but continued on my elliptical at a hard pace and was on a higher dose of anti-inflammatories for a week.”

Are there any other resources for thrombophlebitis?

US National Library of Medicine

Plus, more from The Bump:

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Blood Clots During Pregnancy

Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?

By Deborah Ottenheimer, MD, ob-gyn at Ottenheimer Healthcare in New York