At its most basic description, post-thrombotic syndrome, otherwise known as PTS, is a long-term or chronic condition that can occur in individuals who have experienced a deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
Post-thrombotic syndrome is typically caused by damaged leg veins and may also involve valves that encourage proper blood flow from the lower extremities back up to the heart. These valves control the direction of blood flow. Blood clots in the calf leg veins block blood flow. Poor circulation or immobility can also cause inflammation and damage to the valves.
A damaged valve doesn’t work properly and can “leak” if it doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to pool downward around the ankle. As the blood flow in the lower extremity worsens, leg ulcers may appear.
Be aware of symptoms of PST, and take preventive measures that may help reduce risk.
PTS risk factors
Not all patients who experience a deep vein thrombosis are at risk for experiencing PTS. Risks increase for individuals that:
- have experienced proximal deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot located above the knee;
- have more than one blood clot in the same leg more than once;
- continue to experience blood clot symptoms one-month post-blood clot diagnosis;
- are obese;
- have difficulty in maintaining optimal success with blood thinner medications during the first three months of starting medications
Based on several recent studies, PTS is an issue that has the potential to develop in approximately half of the patients who have prior experience with a deep vein thrombosis in the leg.
Be aware of the risks and be aware of symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome, which include:
- Chronic leg pain (the characteristics of leg pain and severity can differ among individuals, such as throbbing, burning, achiness, sharp pain, stabbing pain, and so forth). Pain and swelling may worsen following periods of standing or walking
- Swelling – some also note a ‘heavy’ feeling in the leg, or tingling and itchy feelings
- Sores (ulcers)
Prevention is the key to reducing the risk of post-thrombotic syndrome, which has the potential to reduce the quality of life for some individuals. The condition can also be costly to treat.
Take preventive measures to reduce the risk of PTS
Preventing PTS relies on reducing the risk of new or additional blood clots. Talk to your physician regarding treatments that may include the use of high-strength (30 to 40 mm Hg) compression stockings, as well as other compression devices as recommended. Added attention should always be given to prompt treatment of leg ulcers, as a lack of adequate blood flow can slow down healing processes and increase the risk of infections.