You know that a DVT can cause pain, cramping and soreness in a leg, but did you also know that it can cause numbness and tingling?
“Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is often labeled the ‘silent killer’ because the blood clot can travel [to the lungs] and lead to death,” says Walter Gaman, MD, FABFM, board certified in family medicine and the author of several award-winning books including “Age to Perfection: How to Thrive to 100, Happy, Healthy, and Wise.”
“In about half the people affected, DVT symptoms include a hot and painful area within the leg, most commonly the calf.
“Some people experience this pain with or without numbness and tingling in the leg, but many people develop these sensations as well.
“The reason it has been named the ‘silent killer’ is because the other half of the population with DVT may not experience any symptoms at all.
“DVT is a serious condition that can lead to the loss of life if the blood clot breaks off and goes to the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism.”
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include sudden difficulty breathing, chest pain and feeling faint.
A blood clot that’s lodged in a vein in a leg or the pelvic area can become fragmented at any second and within seconds be at the entrance to the lungs.
If it blocks the pulmonary artery where it splits off into each lung (saddle embolism), death is quick.
Smaller emboli can also be peppered about inside the lungs. Either way, the condition is a medical emergency.
“Keep in mind that numbness and tingling in the leg can also be caused by a number of other conditions such as diabetes, neuropathy, stroke or even something as simple as a sitting position that temporarily blocks blood flow or causes that area to have a sensation of ‘falling asleep,’” says Dr. Gaman.
Sciatica (a pinched or compressed nerve in the upper leg) can also cause tingling and numbness in the leg.
“Since numbness and tingling of an extremity can be a serious condition, anything that lasts more than a few minutes after changing positions should be discussed with your healthcare provider,” says Dr. Gaman.
Dr. Gaman is with Executive Medicine of Texas and is with the Staying Young Radio Show 2.0 podcast.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.