ZocdocAnswersDo I have a blood clot in my arm?

Question

Do I have a blood clot in my arm?

My right arm is swollen below the elbow for no reason. I read some stuff online and I think I could have a blood clot. Is this what is making my arm swell? It doesn't really hurt by I'm worried. How do you get a blood clot anyway?

Answer

This sounds like it could be a medical emergency, and I would definitely go see your doctor or go to the emergency room right away for evaluation. Although blood clots are possible in the arms, they are more common higher up in the arm and so the swelling usually extends above the elbow toward the shoulder. I would be more concerned about trauma to the arm. For example, if you have had a recent fall or blow to the arm, this may be a broken bone or a sprain, especially if there is a lot of pain. Similarly, another very concerning possibility would be a type of skin infection called cellulitis. This occurs when bacteria get into the skin, often through small nicks or cuts. Symptoms include pain, warmth, redness, and swelling of the skin. Your doctor will be able to take a look at the arm and help you figure out what is going on. They may wish to perform some blood tests looking for infection or some x rays looking for any trauma. Based on what they find, they will recommend treatments, which may include various medications, including antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you may need to be admitted to the hospital.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.