Superficial thrombophlebitis is inflammation of a vein close to the surface of the skin. It happens most often in the leg. The condition is easily treatable. But, it can lead to more serious health concerns.


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A blood clot close causes superficial thrombophlebitis.

Risk Factors

Your chances of superficial thrombophlebitis are higher for:

  • Women, mainly over 65 years old
  • An injury, mainly to the lower leg
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Prolonged bed rest
  • History of vein problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Paralysis
  • Family history of blood clotting problems
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy


Superficial thrombophlebitis may cause:

  • A cord like vein you can see. It may be tender when it’s touched. You may notice it develop over several hours to days.
  • Redness and warmth surrounding the vein.
  • Swelling around the vein.

Complications include:


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests such as:


In most cases, superficial thrombophlebitis goes away on its own after a few weeks. If needed, care may involve:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
  • Exercise
  • Compression stockings
  • Warm compress on the inflamed vein
  • Elevation
  • Blood thinners
  • Procedures to remove the blood clot


To help lower your chances of superficial thrombophlebitis:

  • Walk around the cabin and stretch your limbs every hour or so when you fly.
  • Pull over every hour or so and stretch your limbs when you drive.