I love to travel. Visiting some place that I’ve never been or even going to someplace that I’ve been before is always exciting for me. Seeing new scenery and meeting new people is a lot of fun!
Driving to faraway places also allows me to see much more of the great United States. But for some people, sitting in one position for a long time can be hazardous to their health.
Many people with chronic pain sit in one place for an extended period of time. It takes time to get situated and cozy so it’s just easier to stay in place once you get comfortable. Sitting in one place for a long time – whether that’s in a car, plane, ship, or train – puts you at risk for getting a blood clot.
Are you at risk for getting a blood clot?
A blood clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid to a gel-like state (healthline). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 350,000 – 900,000 people in the United States develop a blood clot every year.
When a blood clot forms inside a vein and doesn’t dissolve, it can be very dangerous. Sometimes the blood clot doesn’t move – it stays in place inside the vein. However, if the blood clot breaks off – it can be life threatening.
Depending on where the blood clot is located, it might be called something else. For example, a blood clot in the leg is called a deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot in a lung is called a pulmonary embolus.
A blood clot in an artery that supplies blood to the heart is a heart attack. A blood clot that travels to an artery in the brain is a stroke.
There are several risk factors for forming a blood clot such as smoking or high blood pressure; another risk is being immobile (like when you’re traveling).
How do you know if you have a blood clot? It will depend on where the blood clot is located.
If you develop a blood clot is in your leg, you will have pain, redness, and swelling in that leg. If a blood clot is in your lung, you may have chest pain, fast heart rate, and trouble breathing.
If the blood clot is in an artery in your heart, you may have chest pain, trouble breathing, nausea, indigestion, and sweating. It’s important to point out that if you’re a woman or someone with diabetes, you might not have the typical symptoms of a heart attack. Women may experience pain in their arm, neck, jaw, or back, stomach pain, they may feel lightheaded, sweating or fatigue.
What do you do if you think you have a blood clot? If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke – call 911.
If you have swelling, redness or pain in your leg, then you need to see your healthcare provider. From there, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your past medical history and other questions to see if you are at risk for developing a blood clot – so be sure to tell them about any recent travel.
Your healthcare provider may order an ultrasound test on your leg to see if there is a clot there. If the clot is located someplace else – such as your heart or brain – there will be different tests ordered.
How can you protect yourself from getting a blood clot?
- Know what look for and what the symptoms of a blood clot are.
- Talk to your healthcare provider. Ask if you’re at risk for a blood clot. If you are at risk, your healthcare provider can show you some specific exercises, prescribe medication to prevent a blood clot, or recommend compression stockings.
- Move your legs often – at least every 2 hours. Or get up and walk if you can.
- Stretch your legs frequently.
- Try not to cross your legs or put a pillow under your knees. This compresses the blood vessels in your legs and increases your risk of developing a blood clot.
If you’re going on vacation or traveling a long distance – be sure to use these tips to prevent a blood clot from forming in you.
Until next time ~ Dr. JB Kirby
Are you ready to Thrive despite Chronic Pain? You can learn more in my bestselling book: Pain Management Decoded: Surviving and Thriving with Chronic Pain available on Amazon.