Superficial phlebitis is usually caused by local trauma to a vein. Superficial phlebitis is most often caused by an intravenous catheter (IV) placed in a vein, and the vein becomes irritated. Superficial phlebitis may or not have a blood clot form to cause the pain and inflammation. In the legs, superficial phlebitis can be associated with varicose veins.
Causes of deep vein thrombosis or thrombophlebitis include:
inactivity (blood pools in the veins and tends to clot if a person is inactive for a prolonged period of time);
blood clotting abnormalities (may be inherited).
Risk factors for DVT include:
Prolonged inactivity (for example, a long airplane or car ride, an extremity immobilized in a cast or splint, being bedridden for an illness or after surgery, a sedentary lifestyle, inactivity with little or no exercise)
Smoking cigarettes, especially when combined with hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
During pregnancy, the enlarged uterus can also compress the large veins in the pelvis increasing the risk of blood clotting.
Certain medical conditions such as cancer or blood disorders that increase the potential of blood clotting
Injury to the arms or legs
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2016
Must Read Articles Related to Phlebitis
Blood Clot in the Legs
Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg, DVT) is a learn more >>
Blood is supposed to clot to help repair a blood vessel that is injured. Clots or thrombi become a problem when they form inappropriately. There are a variety o...learn more >>
A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot in the lung. The clot typically comes from other areas of the body and travels to the lung, where it becomes lodged. P...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Phlebitis: