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What are the typical symptoms of a blood clot in the legs?

This question was asked in Marigold, California and has 3 answer(s) as of 08/23/2016.
I recently traveled by plane for over 13 hours from Europe to Los Angeles. After the trip, I had a massively swollen left ankle and foot, with a three inch strawberry-red blotch appearing just above the ankle bone. I thought it might be a a blood clot, but it has been a week and the swelling is now almost gone. Do these sound like typical symptoms of a blood clot? Can blood clots just disappear on their own?

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Doctors Answers (3)

Anytime you notice sudden swelling or any changes you describe, I would recommend an immediate visit to the ER for an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot. These can be silent and can kill. I would still recommend you go for testing at this stage. It may be a superficial clot, which will not typically break off and travel, but you need to be sure. Anyone traveling more than a couple hours should wear at least a 15-20 mmHg knee length compression sock, drink a lot of fluids; then you have to walk to the bathroom, and do the exercises in the flight magazine. I also recommend an aspirin (81 mg) before the flight.

Blood clots in the leg can develop from prolonged sitting in a confined area such as with lengthy airline or motor vehicle travel, leg traumas, leg surgeries, clotting disorders, smoking, pregnancy, cancer, and some hormone supplements. Symptoms may be vague and painless usually with swelling of one leg following some event as I have mentioned. It is possible for some clots to be reabsorbed by themselves, but it is best to evaluate by a quick and painless ultrasound evaluation, and treatment includes being placed on an anti-coagulate medication. The type of medication and length of treatment will depend on your lab results and the probable cause of the clot (if you have one). I suggest wearing light compression hose during lengthy trips and following leg trauma or surgery to reduce the chance of developing clots, especially if you have previously had a DVT-type clot.

You should seek medical care immediately; do not delay.

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