Do I have a blood clot?
July 11, 2010 6:02 AM   Subscribe

YANAD: Do I have a blood clot?

The other day I was sitting on the couch in the evening and had a bad stabbing pain in the back on my calf. Aspirin and Ibuprofin seemed to do no good, neither did ice, maybe heat a tiny bit. It went on for hours. The next morning when I work up it was gone.

The next night I was in bed and it suddenly reappeared, same spot as before.

So I am wondering if I have a blood clot in my leg. I don't feel any heat or see any swelling but still wondering. My leg hurt until about 4:30am, I work up after a few hours sleep and it was gone, but my knee seems to hurt a bit now.

I have had issues with gout in the past and am on allupirnol and was on idmethacin for the pain and to get the swelling down for about 2 months. I ran out so stopped taking the indomethacin three days ago. Not sure if that is related.

Any thoughts?

Blood clot risk factors: mid thirties, slightly overweight (20 pounds, but I am 6')
posted by UMDirector to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have to ask, you should close the laptop, get in the car, and drive to the doctor's office or emergency room, or have someone drive you. No stranger on the internet can tell you if you have a blood clot or not.

If you do, it could kill you. Are you nuts?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:07 AM on July 11, 2010

Not sure if you only want advice from non doctors, I am simply NYD. :-)

It's not gout. Gout is in joints.

If you go to the emergency department you can get an ultrasound and find out.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:09 AM on July 11, 2010

It could be a pulled muscle or any other number of ailments. It's hard to know based on your description.
posted by dfriedman at 6:16 AM on July 11, 2010

If you think you have one you need to go to the doctor RIGHT NOW. You can die instantly from that type of thing.
posted by biochemist at 6:29 AM on July 11, 2010

Doctor go NOW.
I got tested for a possible clot the other month via ultrasound, based on just a swollen foot. Doctors don't fuck around if they think there might be a clot.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:34 AM on July 11, 2010

My bad stabbing pains in the back of my calves have always been leg cramps. I get them occasionally if I stop running (go figure) and when I was pregnant. When I got them a lot, I took extra magnesium. You can feel them, like knots, beneath the skin. They're painful as hell. Often, after I've had them, the muscle hurts for a few days, as if a lot has been asked of it.

You should probably see a doctor (or call the help line or nurse line at your doctor's office) if they're new to you and to rule out blood clots and tumors and poltergeists, especially since you have mitigating conditions and because you recently stopped taking medication. You also might be able to get a hold of your pharmacy who might be able to give you some feedback regarding whether there could be a relationship between the medication you stopped taking and this event.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:47 AM on July 11, 2010

I've have DVT and I've gotten pulmonary embolisms. They are pretty serious and I came pretty near death with them. But a pain in the calf wasn't how mine manifested themselves. In fact, if you are not seeing swelling in the legs, they don't feel warm, and you don't feel anything different about your breathing, I would suspect you have calf and knee pain.

I'm not trying to diminish the seriousness of a blood clot, I'm only trying to put things in perspective. Usually calf and knee pain alone aren't signs of DVT. Swelling in your legs and difficulty breathing are much more indicative. I'd try Nuprin and a banana.
posted by 0BloodyHell at 7:52 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I recommend you do some research on a medical information website like Medline Plus, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Health and information is written by top doctors. Dedicated search under your topic will give you lots of information and referrals.
posted by effluvia at 8:06 AM on July 11, 2010

I should probably clarify, the banana for potassium. If it's a cramp, a few bananas would help as cramps seem to often come from potassium deficiencies . And I said Nuprin but meant Naproxen Sodium. Before I got DVT I ran and rode my bike a lot. Naproxen Sodium was great for sore leg muscles.
posted by 0BloodyHell at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2010

I had the same thing, but a little knot there and some bruising. I high-tailed it to the doctor, and they made me do an ultrasound, but by that time I had kind of figured it out -- phlebitis and varicose veins. Weak veins make the blood pool. DVT, or deep vein thrombosis does not have these same symptoms. And I can tell you, I was more upset at the cost of the ultrasound ($900!) than I was the threat of a clot. Was not a clot -- just phlebitis and varicose veins. IANAD at all, but it helps to do a little research.
posted by gingembre at 10:06 AM on July 11, 2010

Are you sure it isn't just a charlie horse (aka leg cramp)? I get them all the time. Very painful, sharp stabbing pains in my calf. It usually happens if I stretch the muscle weird in my sleep, and damn it hurts. Really painful for a minute or so, then it finally fades to the point where I can go back to sleep after about half an hour. It's not overly painful the next morning, but I can still feel a lingering after-effect. The exact same thing happens to my SO, and my brother has mentioned it as well. It's always happened to me, ever since I've been a kid, and I've never had a doctor comment on it. Then again, I've never assumed a blot clot. It seems like a bit of a stretch to go from a pain in your leg to a blood clot - what made you think that was what it was? Chest pain I could understand. Random leg pain? You never know, but it seems like you're jumping the gun on trying to figure out the worse possible case here. Then again, IANAD, or anything more than a random speculator on the internet.

Do you have a nurse line or something in your area that you could call and explain your symptoms? They'll tell you what to do, and are obviously a hell of a lot more qualified than randoms on the internet.
posted by cgg at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2010

I had a DVT following knee surgery. It manifested first as basically the worst charlie horse type pain you can imagine. I had none of the redness, heat, etc. that is typical. When I asked my PT about it the next day they shrugged it off but after two more episodes my surgeon sent me for an ultrasound and I was treated for a clot.

They don't often kill you "instantly" but it can happen. I'd see a doctor.
posted by anastasiav at 4:08 PM on July 11, 2010

I've been the lucky winner of a heinous DVT as well as three or four superficial clots. A couple things:
ultrasounds at the time I had superficial clots (about 11 years ago) could not diagnose anything in the calf. Maybe they're higher resolution now, but my experience was this:

Tech searches over and over on my thigh. I say, "the pain is in my calf - I'm pretty sure there's a clot there - you can feel the warm patch" Tech says, "the ultrasound won't show anything in the calf - the veins are too small, so I'm looking in your thigh." I say, "but it's not in my thigh". I got a follow-up call from my hemotologist who said, "looks like you don't have a clot." I say, "they looked in my thigh - there's still a painful hot patch in my calf." He says, "oh, that's a clot - we need to put you (back) on blood thinners."

So what does it feel like - a superficial clot in the calf to me felt like there was a tightness in my leg, but not as tight as a muscle cramp. The affected area was hugely hot and somewhat swollen. In one case, there was angry redness as well as the veins in my leg started showing deep color and creeped up my leg. Here's how something like that is treated if you have no other history: elevation, frequent sitz baths, support hose.

A DVT on the other hand is a different beast. The one I had felt like the worst charlie horse ever, except without the muscles tightening up. I had no idea what was going on and decided to set a timer for a half hour before I called someone to take me to the hospital (should've called an ambulance). I lasted 10 minutes before I went for the phone. The trip out to the car put me in shock. When I arrived at the hospital, I was pale as a ghost, sopping with sweat, and shivering like I was in the arctic. It took two shots of demerol to kill the shock, and they had to cut off my pants and underwear as the swelling was that bad. They confirmed with a venogram which involved putting me on a tiltable table and shooting a radioactive dye into the affected leg and then they tilted the table up to slow the dye flow while I screamed like a banshee and went back into shock. That's a DVT. When you have one of those and a couple years later spontaneously get a superficial clot, they put you on coumadin/warfarin sodium.

Now, if I were you, I'd go to my GP and be armed with family history and be prepared to ask questions about whether or not you sit a lot, had a long plane flight, smoke, had surgery, are pregnant or recently were, taking birth control pills and so on - these are some of the correlative risk factors. If the GP is good, s/he may order up a battery of blood tests, including but not limited to: protein s, protein c, activated protein c resistant, factor V leyden, antithrombin III, G20210, liver function and so on. If one of these is a bingo, then you're probably going to be on the coumadin train. If not they will most likely treat it like a muscle cramp, which in all likelihood, it is.

A note on support hose - if it is recommended, for the love of Mike, wear it. I hate the full leg kind - it's useless. The knee high does its job: it prevents a daily pitting edema which may, over time cause interstitial tearing, scarring, and microlesions which become an entry path for MRSE or MRSA and make your leg look like this and have you set up with a week's worth of top shelf antibiotics in a special room in the hospital where everyone who goes in has to wear a gown, mask and gloves. Not that I know from personal experience or anything.
posted by plinth at 4:58 PM on July 11, 2010

Mod note: few comments removed - back it up and take it to MeTa folks, you're not helping the OP answer their question
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:13 PM on July 11, 2010

« Older Dogs came home sick from kennel; now what?   |   How to be a quiet guy in a world of extroverts Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.