Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Do I have a blood clot in one of my legs?"
My international flight was about eight hours, and my leg cramps have not subsided. I?m getting nervous. Do I need a doctor?
Leg cramps can be a sign of dehydration and/or low potassium and it is important to discuss it with your physician. Blood clots in the legs (Also known as DVTs, or Deep Vein Thrombus), usually present as leg swelling, with occasional calf tenderness. There are many risk factors for blood clots in the legs. The three factors responsible for clot formation are endothelial damage, hypercoagulability and venous stasis. The first (endothelial damage) refers to injury/trauma. The second (hypercoagulability) refers to potential prothrombotic states such as genetic conditions (e.g. Protein C deficiency), cancer hx, or pregnancy to name a few. The final factor (venous stasis) is an example such as yours, where prolonged immobilization causes slowing of flow through the veins (which are low pressure vessels to begin with) and compression, causing clots to form. Some of the more common examples of this would be a long international flight, or cross country bus ride, etc. If you're concerned about your symptoms and they are not resolving, then you may want to consider visiting your PCP or your local emergency room for a physician evaluation. The workup would include some basic blood work (labs) as well as an ultrasound test of your legs to look at the deep veins and assess whether or not they have clots. If clots are detected, you may require treatment in the form of anticoagulation. Again, please speak to your physician.
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