While deep vein thrombosis is not often associated with accidental injuries, many injuries can lead to deep vein thrombosis. As a result, doctors and nurses must monitor for this complication after you suffer a disabling personal injury.
Deep vein thrombosis can complicate your recovery from an accident and produce pain and swelling in your legs. And if a blood clot reaches your lungs, it can cause permanent damage or even kill you.
What Is the Function of Your Circulatory System?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen for cell metabolism. The cells get oxygen from your blood, and your heart pumps blood to the lungs, where the red blood cells pick up oxygen molecules. The blood then flows back to the heart, which pumps it to your head and body.
As they reach your cells, each red blood cell drops off its oxygen molecule and picks up a carbon dioxide molecule, and the oxygen-depleted blood subsequently gets pulled back toward your heart. In much of your body, the heart can produce enough negative pressure to suck the blood back to the heart to continue the circulatory process.
But in the deep veins of your arms and legs, the heart must work against gravity to pull your blood upward. And since these areas are so far from the heart, the pressure in the veins is much lower.
Your deep veins have valves to help blood flow upward. When your heart beats, the valves open so blood can travel up your legs and arms. Between beats, the valves close so the blood does not flow backward.
When your oxygen-depleted blood finally returns, the heart pumps it to the lungs. Once there, blood cells drop off the carbon dioxide molecule and pick up another oxygen molecule to repeat the process.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your legs or arms. The clot typically forms behind one of the valves where the blood rests between heartbeats. Since the pressure in these veins is so low, the blood flows very slowly and irregularly. As it sits on the valves, the platelets in the blood can coagulate into a clot.
This clot blocks blood from returning to the heart from your legs. But since the artery running to your legs remains open, blood pools in your feet and lower legs, causing your leg to swell from the lack of circulation. You may experience leg discoloration and feel tightness or even pain as the swollen tissue presses on your leg nerves.
Doctors treat deep vein thrombosis by administering clot-busting drugs. Blood thinners dissolve the clot and allow the blood to flow in your deep veins again. But even after the clot is gone, you may suffer long-term symptoms — such as pain, swelling, poor circulation, and leg sores — due to valve damage.
What Causes Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis does not result directly from trauma. But its causes can relate to the trauma you suffered. Some common causes of deep vein thrombosis include:
When you break a bone, a blood clot forms over the fracture. This clot:
- Stops bleeding
- Protects the fracture from infection
- Holds healing factors in the fracture so they can repair the bone
But if a piece of this clot breaks off, it can travel through your blood vessels and get lodged in your deep veins.
One of the most common causes of deep vein thrombosis is immobility. This can happen when you take a long road trip or an airplane flight. The pressure of the seat on the backs of your thighs constricts your blood flow. As a result, you can develop blood clots in your legs.
This same process can also happen after you are injured in an accident. When your injuries render you immobile, your bed or chair can slow your blood flow. This problem is compounded by gravity, which can also cause your blood to pool in the back of your legs during bed rest.
Compression socks or pneumatic compression sleeves squeeze your feet and legs to increase the pressure in your deep veins. Such devices can reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis.
When you undergo surgery, your body increases the volume of clotting factors in your blood. This change in blood chemistry helps prevent internal bleeding. It also, though, increases the risk of blood clot formation. As a result, you can develop deep vein thrombosis after surgery, even if the operation did not involve your legs.
What Complications Can Result from Deep Vein Thrombosis?
The two main complications from deep vein thrombosis include:
Blood thinning medication will dissolve your clot, but it can also cause internal bleeding. This bleeding can lead to pain and even a stroke.
A pulmonary embolism happens when a piece of the blood clot breaks off and reaches your lungs. There, it blocks the blood vessels carrying oxygen-depleted blood to pick up oxygen.
Since they cannot exchange their carbon dioxide molecules for oxygen molecules, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
When experiencing a pulmonary embolism, you will need emergency treatment to avoid permanent lung damage or even death.
How Can You Get Personal Injury Compensation for Deep Vein Thrombosis?
After someone else causes an accident, you can pursue compensation for any resulting injuries. Accidents do not cause deep vein thrombosis, but you may still be able to seek compensation if you can trace the cause of your deep vein thrombosis to your accident.
For example, suppose that you suffer a broken leg in a pedestrian accident. If part of the blood clot covering the broken bone breaks off, it could lodge in your leg veins and lead to deep vein thrombosis.
In cases like this, it is the crash that causes deep vein thrombosis — even though the condition did not develop immediately after it. As a result, you can pursue compensation for your deep vein thrombosis from the driver who ran you over.Deep vein thrombosis can permanently damage your veins and lungs. To discuss your deep vein thrombosis and the compensation you may be entitled to, contact the experts at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers or call us at (877) 300-4535 for a free consultation.