Thrombophlebitis and Deep Vein Thrombosis

Thrombophlebitis is inflammation of the walls of the veins. Redness and tenderness follow the line of the vein. Deep vein thrombosis is where a blood clot forms in the veins in the lower leg. When a vein is blocked by a blood clot, it causes an inflammatory reaction in the vein walls. The opposite process also occurs where a vein that is inflamed will cause a blood clot to form in the vein. The end effect is the same – an inflamed vein with a blood clot. Over 90% of blood clots and inflammation of veins occurs in the deep veins of the leg. If the calf is warm, bluish in color, slightly swollen, and it is painful to stretch the calf muscle by bending the foot upwards – this is highly suggestive of a deep vein thrombosis. Inflammation of a vein can develop from a drip or catheter inside the vein that becomes infected or from injection of a medical drug that irritates the vein.

A blood clot can form in the following conditions:

1. When the blood flows over an abnormal surface – for example a scar in the heart muscle from a previous heart attack or a prosthetic valve where a person has had a valve replacement.

2. Changes in blood flow – normally blood flow in the heart and blood vessels is streamline. Blood flow becomes turbulent when blood flows rapidly and chaotically through the heart and blood vessels, similar to rough water in a river with rapids. Turbulent flow can be caused by the heart beating at an irregular, abnormal rhythm. Clots can also form when blood flow is too slow or standing still in an area, for example in heart failure or in the region of a scar in the heart muscle from a previous heart attack.

The return of blood from the veins in the legs to the heart is reliant on the contraction and relaxation of calf muscles which massages the veins. The blood is kept moving forwards by valves in the veins that only allow the blood to move in one direction (i.e. forwards). So if a person is immobilized (for example after an operation) or bedridden (especially elderly people), they are at high risk of developing clots in their veins because the blood flow in the veins is slow and sluggish (no contraction and relaxation of calf muscles).

3. Blood clots can also form when the blood becomes very thick, for example woman who take the contraceptive pill. Oestrogen has a tendency to promote the formation of blood clots.

The heart diseases mentioned above that can lead to blood clots have been discussed previously in this chapter. The spiritual root behind these heart diseases is fear, anxiety and stress. Sometimes there is a component of self bitterness, guilt and varying degrees of self hatred, depending on the underlying physical disease process that caused the blood clot. The following two chapters will help you:

• “Dealing With Fear, Anxiety And Stress” on page 523.
• “Who You Are In Christ” on page 498 – this is relevant if you have struggled with self bitterness,
self-hatred, guilt, self-rejection and/or a low self-esteem.

Pregnancy can sometimes predispose to blood clots because the veins in the pelvis are compressed by the pressure from the baby. This obstructs blood flow in the veins. The result is that blood flow is slow and sluggish, which predisposes to blood clot formation. Blood clots can also form after physical trauma, for example a broken bone in your leg or hip or after surgery. Certain cancers can activate the formation of blood clots. If several generations of your family members had blood clots, it is very likely that you have an inherited clotting disorder (for example, antithrombin 3, protein C and S deficiency). In this case you need to turn to page 153 and read through the chapter on genetically inherited diseases.

However, blood clots also form in veins of young, active people who have none of the above mentioned diseases. In this case, thrombophlebitis and deep vein thrombosis almost invariably occurs in a varicose vein. This is where the spiritual root of anger, rage and resentment comes in (varicose veins are discussed two pages back). Inflammation of the vein and blood clots in the leg causes pain and swelling.

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