Thrombophlebitis In The Arm: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Thrombophlebitis in the arm is inflammation of the vein in arm caused as a result of a thrombus or a blood clot. Phlebitis is inflammation of vein. In majority of cases thrombophlebitis in the arm is superficial. The vein below skin gets inflamed. Thrombophlebitis is painful condition. Anyone can suffer from thrombophlebitis in the arm, but largely it results because of intravenous injection or IV drip in hospitalized patients.

There are many other reasons such as infection, insect bite, smoking etc. The symptoms of thrombophlebitis in the arm are pain, redness over the skin, and hardening of the affected vein.

Usually superficial thrombophlebitis in the arm lasts for two to three weeks. No treatment is necessary. However, sometimes patient may need medicines to relieve pain.

Causes Of Thrombophlebitis In The Arm

Thrombophlebitis in the arm develops when the vein in the arm is injured or damaged. This causes a blood clot to form in the vein. Mostly superficial vein in arm underlying the skin is affected. There are several risk factors associated with thrombophlebitis in the arm. They include as follows:

  • Intravenous drips, injections or catheterization.
  • Infection such as a boil or an abscess in hand or arm.
  • Clotting disorders
  • Smoking
  • Obese
  • Elderly age group
  • Varicose vein
  • Surgery in arm or hand.
  • Pressure on arm for too long.
  • Use of oral contraceptive medicines or hormone replacement therapy.
  • History of previous occurrence of thrombophlebitis in the arm.
  • Immobility for long duration.

Signs And Symptoms Of Thrombophlebitis

The symptoms of thrombophlebitis in the arm are as follows:

  • The onset is gradual and it may take one or two days for the symptoms to develop.
  • The area becomes red along the area of vein. A long thin red line may be seen on the skin over the area where vein is situated.
  • The area around the superficial vein in arm becomes warm and painful.
  • Moderate to severe pain.
  • Difficulty in moving the arm due to pain.
  • The skin over the vein becomes dark.
  • The vein feels inflamed and hard while examining the arm.
  • Presence of fever.
  • A tender lump may be present below the skin.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Thrombophlebitis

Usually the doctor can diagnose superficial thrombophlebitis while examining the arm. There is no need of any tests and investigation in general. However, if he suspects involvement of deep vein, then he may recommend ultra sonogram examination on the affected vein in the arm. It may reveal clot in the vein. If the person has recurrent episodes of thrombophlebitis in the arm, he may need more test to rule out blood clotting problems.

Superficial thrombophlebitis in the arm usually lasts for one or two weeks. Generally no treatment is required as the condition resolves on its own within a period of time. However, some patients cannot bear the pain. In such case the doctor may recommend anti inflammatory medicines for initial few days.

During this period patient is also told to keep his arm mobile and do his regular duties. Warm fomentation also relieves pain. Local application of ointment containing clot dissolving medicine is prescribed in many people. Person is also advised to keep his arm lifted to reduce swelling.

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