Phlebitis, also known as phlebitis, is the most common type of phlebitis, which is an inflammation of the superficial veins of the arms and legs. In rare cases, the deeper veins may also be affected. The inflammation may be caused by a varicose vein condition (varicosis). A thrombosis, an insect bite, a previous injection or an indwelling venous catheter that has been in place for several days can also be causes. In the opposite case, phlebitis can also lead to thrombosis of the affected vein.
Typical symptoms of phlebitis
classic signs of inflammation, such as pain in the affected leg or arm, redness, swelling and overheating a palpable hardening over the affected vein section, as well as a reddish or bluish visible protrusion of the vein clear restriction of movement of the affected leg or arm a feeling of illness with weakness, exhaustion and fever itching over the affected vein in the worst case, especially in the case of frequent phlebitis an open leg, i.e. a poorly healing ulcer, can develop
- Classic signs of inflammation, such as pain in the affected leg or arm, redness, swelling and overheating
- A palpable hardening over the affected vein section, as well as a reddish or bluish visible protrusion of the vein
- Significant restriction of movement of the affected leg or arm
- Feeling ill with weakness, exhaustion and fever
- Itching over the affected vein
- In the worst case, especially with frequent phlebitis, an open leg, i.e. a poorly healing ulcer, can develop
The classic symptoms of phlebitis occur directly on the affected arm or leg. The extremity hurts under pressure and movement, is swollen and reddened.
Depending on whether superficial or deeper vein sections are affected, it is possible to feel a hardening above the inflammation. If the inflammation progresses, general symptoms may also appear. Those affected feel ill, as with an emerging flu, and develop a fever.
The most frequently affected vessels are the already mentioned superficial veins of the arms and legs. But pelvic veins and even neck veins can also be affected. In newborns, an inflammation of the umbilical vein can occur as a special form if the umbilical cord was not cut in a sterile procedure.
- Inflammation of the veins in the arm
- The phlebitis in the leg
A common symptom of phlebitis is reddening of the affected extremity. It occurs very variably and can also be completely absent, especially in the case of inflammation of the deep veins. The reddening often manifests itself in the form of a strand along the affected vein.
This can also be knotty and thickened. However, there is also extensive redness. The redness often occurs as one of the first symptoms.
A reddened extremity can have a number of other causes besides phlebitis. Therefore, attention must always be paid to other symptoms that indicate phlebitis. Many patients report not only a redness but also a marked overheating of the affected extremity.
The leg or arm may feel hot to the patient subjectively, as well as to the examiner when palpating and comparing it with the healthy extremity. The overheating, like the redness, is caused by increased blood flow in the leg or arm, which is typical of an inflammation. Also in the case of an overheated body part, additional symptoms must again be considered in order to be able to narrow down the diagnosis.
Swelling is one of the classic symptoms of an inflammation, as are redness and overheating. It is also caused by increased blood circulation in the affected area and the leakage of fluid from the vessels into the tissue. In the context of a phlebitis, there is often initially no or only a slight swelling of the inflamed extremity.
In the course of the disease, however, this can also increase. A marked swelling of a limb can be an indication of an inflammation of a deeper lying vein. Pain is one of the most important symptoms of phlebitis.
The affected limb often hurts at rest. However, the pain can increase significantly under stress. In addition, touching and applying pressure directly above the inflamed vein section can be particularly painful for those affected.
The character of the pain caused by phlebitis can vary. Many patients report burning and pulling-piercing pain. In the course of the phlebitis, some patients experience an increasing feeling of illness.
This symptom is also a typical reaction of the body to an inflammation. Those affected report fatigue, exhaustion and reduced ability to cope with stress, just as many know from an emerging flu-like infection. This feeling is intensified if there is also a fever or a slightly elevated body temperature (subfebrile temperature).
A feeling of illness does not necessarily occur in the context of a phlebitis. In the case of localised inflammation, this symptom can often be completely absent. Fever can also be a symptom of phlebitis.
Like the emerging feeling of illness, this symptom does not necessarily occur. Often it only occurs in the context of advanced or extensive inflammation of the veins. Some patients do not develop a fever in the true sense of the word but only react with sub-febrile temperatures (body temperature between 37.5 and 37.9°C).
Especially when the fever rises, many patients complain of freezing and a distinct feeling of illness. You can find out how you can reduce fever with home remedies here: How to reduce fever? Especially in the case of deep vein inflammation, a bluish-red discolouration of the affected extremity may occur.
Occasionally the blood vessels running under the skin can become visible. Patients also report a palpable and painful strand deep in the inflamed extremity. Superficial phlebitis is usually more likely to manifest itself as localised redness.
Here too, however, a strand may occur which can then be palpated rather superficially. The open leg, also known as the leg ulcer, is a poorly healing ulcer that usually occurs on the lower leg. It can occur particularly in patients with recurrent phlebitis due to a venous outflow disorder.
Only in exceptional cases and in patients with frequent phlebitis can this symptom be found. . In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, some patients with phlebitis also complain of itching.
Especially in the context of a superficial inflammation itching is a common symptom. But itching can also occur in patients with deep vein inflammation. If deep veins are affected, the affected extremity is often markedly swollen. If this persists for a longer period of time, slight skin changes develop which can trigger the annoying itching.