Phlebitis usually improves on its own in a few days, although it may take a few weeks for the lumps and pain to disappear. Phlebitis in the superficial veins is rarely serious and usually responds to pain control, elevation, and warm compresses for 1-2 weeks.
Treatment usually consists of warm soaks, rest, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, ASA) or ibuprofen. Wearing elastic compression stockings also can help. The doctor might also remove the blood clot under local anaesthetic.
Doctors might do emergency surgery for phlebitis in the groin. Since this is the point where a superficial vein joins a deep vein, the blood clot could extend into a deep vein. Tying off the superficial vein under a local anaesthetic can prevent this from happening.
- If your evaluation shows superficial phlebitis and you are otherwise healthy, you can go home. You will need to use compression stockings, heparin-containing ointments and anti-inflammatory medications to control your symptoms. Additional management involves elevation of the arm/leg and application of warm compresses. Only a few cases require antibiotics.
- If you have a history of deep vein thrombophlebitis, or if the phlebitis might possibly spread to the deep veins, you will need to take a blood thinner (anticoagulant). The duration of anticoagulant treatment is usually between 3-6 months.
- If you have signs of infection, you will need to take an antibiotic.
- If the phlebitis has progressed to involve the deep veins, then it is a serious condition that often requires hospital admission for treatment and further evaluation. If you have a swollen limb contact your doctor immediately.
- To prevent phlebitis, avoid smoking and participate in moderate physical activity to maintain muscle tone and promote circulation.
- An anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help lessen the pain and inflammation.
- If you increase your walking, you increase blood flow. This helps prevent blood clots from developing.
- Prescription leg compression stockings (knee or thigh high) improve your blood flow and may help to relieve your pain and swelling.
- Avoid bed rest for prolonged periods. It can make your symptoms worse.
- If you have deep vein thrombophlebitis, you will probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days for diagnosis and treatment to ensure that no complications occur.