A blood clot, also referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is the result of activated clotting factors and components found in the blood stream. Blood clots can appear in the arm, but can also present elsewhere in the body. They have a multitude of causes, but one of the most common is prolonged immobility, like in the case of a long flight. Certain conditions and risk factors may also increase the likelihood of blood clots appearing, including pregnancy, smoking, and hormone therapy.
Having the ability to recognize the symptoms of a blood clot and knowing when to seek medical attention can mean the difference between life and death. In most cases, blood clots do not pose an immediate threat—if you have a blood clot in your arm, some home remedies may be able to provide some relief.
Signs and symptoms of blood clot in arm
Blood clotting is a normal part of the body and is not necessarily harmful. If the body didn’t have this ability, a simple cut would cause you to bleed out. The human body is a delicate ecosystem that is constantly analyzing and repairing damaged tissue, and this goes for blood vessels too, as they are often subjected to constant stress and trauma from blood circulation. If a blood clot forms in a blood vessel in the arm that is large, it may cut off blood circulation and present with the following symptoms:
Swelling of the affected arm: This occurs due to the buildup of blood, as it cannot proceed past the blockage.
Arm pain or tenderness: This can be initially described as a cramp. The blockage of blood to the rest of the arm can result in tissue damage. This manifests as pain in the affected area, and it may also be tender to touch.
Reddish or bluish skin discoloration: More easily identified in lighter skinned individuals, this discoloration is a hallmark sign of what a blood clot in the arm looks like.
The arm is warm to the touch: The area affected is often of higher temperature than the rest of the body. Stagnated blood may irritate the blood vessels, causing the area to become relatively warmer than the opposite arm.
Vein distension: The appearance of engorged or stretched veins. With the blood having nowhere else to go, it results in the veins of the arm stretching themselves in an attempt to accommodate the increased volume seen at the clot site.
Blood clot in the arm causes
Blood clots occur as a response to blood vessel wall damage. The damaged vessel wall tissue releases substances into the blood that attract platelets to plug up the initial damage site. Platelets are often the first responder to the sites of damaged blood vessels and act as a plug, allowing for more permanent methods of clotting to occur.
A blood clot in the arm that results in symptoms may occur because waxy cholesterol plaque that forms in arteries suddenly breaks off, becoming an embolus—a free flowing clot. The clot now has the potential to travel anywhere in the body, including the arm, where it can become lodged and cause problems. Blood clots in the arm can also be attributed to medication and various defects in clotting factors.
How to treat blood clots in the arm?
Serious blood clots often require a visit to the emergency room, as they can be potentially fatal if not caught in time. Anticoagulants—they essentially dissolve the clot and prevent new ones from forming—will probably be provided in the emergency room. These are designed to inhibit blood clot factors vital for the clotting process. Antiplatelet medication may also be used for the same reasons, but to dissolve platelets instead.
Home treatment for blood clot in arm
There are things you can do yourself to treat and prevent blood clots from occurring. The following are some home remedies you can try today:
Keep a proper diet: Limiting the amount of fatty food in the diet will help reduce the risk of cholesterol plaque formation in blood vessels. A diet high in fiber will aid in achieving this. By incorporating foods such a vegetables and fruits, you can successfully increase your fiber intake.
Herbal tea: Tea from yarrow leaves have been used to treat blood clots.
Watch your medication: Taking any medication prescribed to you by your doctor will help keep you healthy. It is also a good idea to inform them of any new herbal remedies you are using, as they may interfere with your current medication
Move your arms: Staying in one position may cause blood stasis. By moving your arms and being active, this can be prevented.
Change your lifestyle: Smoking is a major contributor to the production of blood clots. Obesity can also contribute. Quitting smoking and losing weight will help reduce your risk.
When to see a doctor?
If you happen to experience any of the serious symptoms mentioned above, it would be a good idea to seek medical care as soon as possible. Having a blood clot in the arm may not be immediately life-threatening, but it can be an indicator of excessive clotting. This may lead to more clots elsewhere in the body that should be identified right away. The following should prompt you to see a doctor right away:
- Shortness of breath
- Squeezing pain in the chest
- Numbness in the face, arm, or leg and sudden weakness
- Pain extending to the back, jaw, or shoulder
- Chronic headaches and dizziness
- Throbbing of the affected area, or in the hands and feet
- Redness, swelling, pain, or numbness in the arm or leg
By seeing a doctor, you will be satisfied that you are getting effective treatment for your condition. Doctors have the ability to order tests, prescribe medication, and even recommend you stay at the hospital if they feel it is in your best interest for health and safety.