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How Does Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Feel?


Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

This article was last updated on September 27, 2016

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot deep in the body, usually in the veins in the lower leg. To avoid complications or greater health risks, it’s important to get checked by a doctor if you have any symptoms of a clot. DVT can be dangerous if left unchecked.

Fortunately, there are some very recognizable warning signs of DVT that can alert you to a problem. If there’s even the slightest chance you have DVT, please see a doctor immediately.

Learn the warning signs of deep vein thrombosis and when to see a doctor for #DVT. Click To Tweet

Learn more about deep vein thrombosis and what you should watch for:

Can You Feel a Blood Clot? What Does Deep Vein Thrombosis Feel Like?

Symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis

You can often feel the effects of a blood clot in the leg.

Early symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include swelling and tightness in the leg. You may have a persistent, throbbing cramp-like feeling in the leg. You may also experience pain or tenderness when standing or walking.

As the blood clot worsens, the skin around it often becomes red or discolored and feels warm to the touch.

Even if your DVT symptoms seem mild and you’re unsure whether you have a clot, you should discuss them with your doctor, especially if you are at increased risk of DVT.

RELATED: Infographic: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Facts and Stats

Avoid DVT Complications with Proper Treatment

Waiting to get treatment can lead to varicose veins, pain, and ulcers in the leg from prolonged swelling. Although most clots dissolve on their own, it is possible for the clot to break apart. When a clot breaks apart and travels to the lungs, it can cause a pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal complication.

Pulmonary embolism symptoms

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain when you take deep breaths
  • Coughing up blood

What to Expect with a DVT Diagnosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is always diagnosed by a physician who will review your symptoms and risk factors and rule out any other conditions. If your doctor suspects you have a blood clot, he or she will likely perform an ultrasound to see how the blood is flowing through your veins.

Other possible tests include ones that determine whether your blood flow through the vein is slow enough to suggest a clot, whether you have an inherited condition, or whether you may be experiencing a pulmonary embolism.

DVT is treatable, so don’t wait for your symptoms to worsen before getting in touch with your doctor.

If you think you may have deep vein thrombosis, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online to learn more or to schedule an appointment with an expert.

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Heart and Vascular Institute

As a recognized leader in cardiovascular care — with a rich history in clinical research and innovation — the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers a full spectrum of personalized cardiovascular services. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the United States, UPMC has made significant contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular medicine. Read More