Post thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a long-term complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) characterized by pain, swelling, and skin changes in the affected limb. PTS is caused when a blood clot damages the deep venous valves. This results in venous reflux in the lower extremities. PTS is characterized by pain, cramps, heaviness, swelling, itching, or numbness and tingling of the lower leg that is aggravated by standing or walking. The more severe forms can cause varicose eczema, subcutaneous atrophy, and hyperpigmentation. In the most severe cases, chronic skin ulceration may occur. Symptoms may take up to 2 years to appear after the initial event, and there is little correlation between the extent of the DVT and the severity of PTS.
Compression stockings (30-40 mm Hg) have been shown to reduce the occurrence of PTS in patients with DVT by approximately 50%. Leg elevation and regular exercise may also help reduce symptoms of PTS.
Dr. Garrett is a clinical pharmacist practitioner at Cornerstone Health Care in High Point, NC.