Neck Pain and Blood Clots

When a vein becomes inflamed due to a blood clot, this is known as thrombophlebitis. A blood clot, which is a solid clump of blood cells, can form in veins that are superficial, near the surface of the skin, or in deeper veins that run between layers of muscle, and they can interfere with healthy blood flow throughout the body. While thrombophlebitis most frequently occurs in the legs, it can also occur in the arms or neck.

Symptoms include inflammation of the skin near a vein, which may appear red or swollen and may feel warm to the touch. The area around the vein will also feel tender and painful, and this pain will increase as pressure is applied to the vein. The vein may also feel hard to the touch, and the skin immediately over the vein may appear dark in color.

There are many risk factors associated with thrombophlebitis. The most common risk factor is recent catheterization or IV, or any other type of injection into a vein. Blood clots can also form if someone remains sitting or lying down for an extended period of time, or if a person is pregnant or obese, and they appear more commonly in smokers and in people with varicose veins. Thrombophlebitis can be a symptom of infection, clotting disorders, stroke or injury, or chemical irritation, and people who are over 60 or are taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapies face an increased risk of blood clots.

If you find yourself with neck pain combined with any of the symptoms of thrombophlebitis, a medical evaluation can help determine the cause of your pain and whether there are risks associated with it. Your doctor will examine the skin on the affected area as well as the area of inflammation, and they will also assess your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse, and test your blood flow. If necessary, your doctor may also conduct additional imaging and tests, including an MRI or ultrasound or a skin test or blood test.

Once potential risks have been ruled out, many people can treat thrombophlebitis at home. If the blood clot is in a vein in your neck, you may use a warm compress, applied to the area of inflammation, to help reduce swelling. You may also use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen or aspirin, to reduce irritation and inflammation. In most cases, thrombophlebitis dissipates within two weeks, though there may be some residual hardness in the affected vein that takes longer to subside.

While the condition is usually a short-term condition that resolves without complications, some complications may arise, and these range from harmless to potentially dangerous; for this reason, medical care is strongly recommended for thrombophlebitis. When thrombophlebitis recurs in patients who do not have varicose veins, additional testing is recommended, and additional treatments may also be necessary.

While it is challenging to prevent thrombophlebitis, there are some preventative measures people can take. If the condition is caused by an IV, removing the IV at the earliest signs of inflammation can prevent the condition from worsening; in many cases, the IV can be safely reinserted into a different vein in a different location.

If you are traveling a long distance, or if you’re sitting for a prolonged period, be sure to periodically get up and move around, lightly stretching on occasion, and drink plenty of water. If you know that you have risk factors for thrombophlebitis, ask your doctor if low-dose aspirin therapy could help you prevent future blood clots.

Neck Pain, Stretch to Try and Relieve Tension