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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Treatment

Treatment is very effective for most simple cases of thrombophlebitis. For leg vein thrombophlebitis, treatment includes bed rest, elevating the legs and applying warm compresses. In some cases, wrapping the legs with an elastic bandage and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also can help. In patients with varicose veins who have had several episodes of thrombophlebitis, the affected veins can be surgically "stripped," a procedure in which the vein is tied off, cut and removed through a small incision.

If the vein becomes infected, you will be treated with antibiotics. Mild cases can be treated with oral medications, but more severe cases usually require antibiotics given intravenously (into a vein) or by injection.

In patients with superficial thrombophlebitis that is not improving with standard therapy, anticoagulant (anti-clotting) medication sometimes is used to prevent blood clots from extending into the deeper leg veins. Blood clots in the deep leg veins, a condition called deep vein thrombosis, can lead to blood clots, called emboli, that float in the bloodstream. These blood clots can travel to the lungs, which can be life threatening.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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