Thrombophlebitis is the term given to describe inflamation (itis) caused by clotted blood (thrombo) in a vein (phleb).
The condition can be painful when it involves veins close to the skin.
It can occur spontaneously in veins that have become dilated and tortuous (varicose veins).
It can also occur after injections into veins or in people who have been in hospital with a drip in a vein.
Thrombophlebitis can occur after varicose vein treatments such as foam sclerotherapy ( this is how the treatment works) and after avulsions ( see the menu bar about treatments)
Thrombophlebitis occurs because the wall of the vein has been damaged by a needle, drip or surgery so that the blood clots in vein. It can also occur when a vein has been incompletely removed so that the flow of blood in the vein is so slow that the blood clots. Some people develop the condition because the have a tendency to form clots.
When thrombophlebits affects deeper veins it is called a deep vein thrombosis.
The treatment of thrombophlebitis involves taking simple painkillers like ibuprofen ( to help the inflammation and pain) and where possible wearing compression stockings (to squash the vein and reduce the chance of more veins forming thrombus).
Some people who have varicose veins and then develop thrombophlebitis may not need treatment of their veins. Thrombophlebitis could be described as nature’s way of treating varicose veins (albeit painful).
If someone develops thrombophlebitis, the vein will be hot, red and tender. As the inflammation settles the vein becomes hard and the skin can appear brown. The colour is caused by the dark congealed blood (which contains iron).
With time the hardness and colour will settle and the skin should return to a normal colour. Massaging the hard vein may help to speed up the healing process.