Thrombophlebitis, commonly known as phlebitis, is an inflammatory condition of a vein, generally in the leg, though in rare instances the condition can develop in the arms and neck as well. The primary symptoms of thrombophlebitis are redness and swelling in a specific area that may feel warm to the touch. In many cases, phlebitis is not a serious health issue; it is common among individuals with varicose veins. However, if a clot causes the inflammation in the vein, phlebitis can escalate in severity and danger.
There are two types of phlebitis: superficial and deep. Superficial phlebitis occurs in a vein just beneath the surface of the skin and is often the result of mild trauma to the vein, such as that caused by an IV catheter. It may appear as a red, hardened, twisted cord under the surface of the skin. Deep phlebitis occurs within a vein hidden in a muscle and is generally associated with a blood clot that blocks the vein. It cannot be detected visually. With both types, more than one vein may be affected.
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