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Discussion:
How long for swelling to go down
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I was diagnosed with a DVT of the left popliteal vein. I had broken both my ankles and was in cast from knee to toes ont he left. When the cast came off I saw my calf was huge. I was diagnosed with a DVT. This was 2 1/2 weeks ago. I am very frightened, although better than the first week.

I am on Coumadin and my INR is around 2.2 now. My leg is still just as swollen as it was when I was diagnosed. They did another ultrasound after the first week and told me the clot is still there and this was to be expected.

I would feel a lot better if the swelling would start to go down. They did tell me it coudl take some weeks....but I would sure feel a lot better if I thought the clot was dissolving and the swelling was decreasing. I would sleep better at night too.

How long does it usually take? Is there any other way to tell if things are improving?

Thank you!

Jane
Posted on 09/24/12, 10:57 pm
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Reply #1 - 09/25/12  8:33am
" Unfortunately you kind of just have to trust the process for awhile during DVT recovery. At just a couple of weeks recovering, I'm not at all surprised you still have significant swelling. It's hard to give a true timeline on how long to expect it because everyone has different experiences with that. I have never had swelling prior to diagnosis of a DVT, and the most severe one I had (which was in multiple veins the entire length of my leg) had bad swelling for over a year, and I've had other DVTs which I barely suffered or didn't at all deal with swelling.

Within whatever limits your doctor has given you, do try to exercise some. I found this to be really helpful and was told that it actually can help clean up the clot faster by having better blood flow due to exercise. And as you find that you're able to increase your activity, you have another little guage that you're getting better, and at least for me, my leg got to where it really felt better when I walked, so I FELT better. In terms of sleeping, I found it very helpful to keep a large pillow under my leg. In fact, I still sometimes keep my leg elevated during the night and it's easier for me to sleep that way. I also know that a good soak in hot water, like taking a bath, helped my leg feel better temporarily, so I'd do that shortly before bed to help me with falling asleep.

DVT recovery usually takes longer than we want it to, and I don't say that to discourage, but rather to prepare so that you don't worry if it does take longer than you expect. But really, the most important thing you can do now is to stay therapeutic on your coumadin, and whatever your doctor says to do in terms of exercise. At two weeks, though, you really are just beginning recovery. Hang in there, try to be patient. "
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Reply #2 - 09/25/12  8:34am
" Jane, it can take a while so don't lose heart. And swelling doesn't mean your clot isn't resolving. It is. 21/2 weeks is so very early in your recovery. If you had major surgery, would you expect to be back to normal 2 weeks after? Probably not. So think of it that way- major trauma to your circulation system takes time to get back on track, just like any other trauma to your body.

Your leg is healing, collateral veins are forming, etc. There's work your body is doing right now to heal.

I'm curious actually why they even bothered doing another ultra sound so soon again , because all it proves is you have a DVT which you already know.

Hang in there!! "
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Reply #3 - 09/25/12  9:02am
" RMB I thought the same thing - how strange to do a repeat ultrasound so soon! The only thing that I thought maybe if it was totally occluded, they wanted to make sure it was started to recanalize and that she had some blood flow returning........but yeah, overall that seems like a weird thing to have done. "
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Reply #4 - 09/25/12  9:07am
" We must have been typing at the exact same time! "
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Reply #5 - 09/25/12  9:38am
" Wish there was a set "time frame" for healing. You can take out stitches in ten days, broken bones are usually better in six weeks. Nothing so cut and dried for blood clots, sadly.

Swelling is not necessarily related to healing. My DVTs were in 2005 and 2009 (and both are still in my leg, considered chronic at this point). I do have some residual swelling (my leg is about an extra inch around from top to bottom) but otherwise I have no pain, discoloration, or other issues.

It did feel like it took a while during the initial phases for anything to start happening, but it IS happening! The body can take quite a while to dissolve those clots, but that doesn't mean it isn't working on it. It really can take a while to start to feel better, but that doesn't mean it won't.

Have your docs talked to you at all about compression stockings? That might be worth asking about, if they haven't said something already.

Hang in there! Keep us posted on how you are doing! "
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Reply #6 - 09/25/12  10:51am
" Thank you all so very much! I feel better already. I got the compression knee highs on my own and I wear them daily - I shoot for 12 hours a day. Is that enough? I got the 20-30 compression because that's what Jobst told me I needed when I called. Now I am wondering if I should go 30-40.

I think they repeated the ultrasound because I told them I was having calf pain and they wanted to be sure it hadn't moved. Sorry some of all this is a big old haze to me. My PCP is sending me to a hematologist.

I am going back to work tomorrow after being off 9 weeks for the 2 broken ankles. The MD said I could go back when I felt like it. I had PT coming here and he got me from the walker to a cane. Today I am trying outpatient PT and we will see what they think. I may have a DVT but I need to get my ankles better too - hopefully they see it that way too. My MD said nothing vigorous is all.

I have been so frightened it's crazy. I had a brother who passed away at 47 from a PE; that contributes for sure. The night I came home I slept fuly dressed with the light on I was so scared. Crazy right? Then I heard my mother's voice in my head saying "what - do you support Con Edison???" LOL.

I love the pillow idea and I will try it. "
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Reply #7 - 09/25/12  10:57am
" Oh I'm so sorry about your brother. I'm sure that's in the forefront of your mind as you deal with this.

I'd stick with 20-30 for now and see how it goes.

I can't believe you broke both your ankles. Holy cow. You've been through the wringer. "
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Reply #8 - 09/25/12  2:39pm
" Really! I can't even imagine breaking both ankles at once! My brother just is recovering from breaking one, and that's been bad enough!

I'm so sorry also to hear of your brother, and honestly I'm surprised that with that family history the doctors didn't take more precautions to prevent DVT, like doing some sort of prophylactic anticoagulation. I didn't even die of my PE, and my brother's doctors were super worried about the clotting risk and only didn't do anticoagulation because he was experiencing other bleeding, so he was kind of caught between a rock and a hard place with that situation. You might want to check with your doctor with what point you can do a little more vigorous exercise, since as you said, you need to do what's necessary to get your ankles better too. Clots are normally pretty stable with little risk of PE after a few weeks, so I would think you should pretty soon be able to do whatever they need in your PT with little worry about the clot. And as I said, the exercise is actually good for helping the body to heal. My doctor specifically instructed me to stay as active as I could handle while recovering and I do feel that helped with healing.

I would also stick with the 20-30 compression right now. That's mostly all I've ever used. You think those ones are hard to get on, the 30-40 are much worse. Of course, the knee highs aren't quite so bad. Keep using them, although you probably want to be sure that the top band doesn't land right on your knee, since that's where the clot is already. My dad (who's also had clots) folds his so that the band goes right below his knee and doesn't squeeze on the knee area where that popliteal is. "
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Reply #9 - 09/25/12  7:42pm
" They had me on Lovenox for the first 7 days after the breaks, so I don't really understand how it happened. They told me trauma and immobility but I really was moving around as much as I could so I just don't get it.

I started with outpatient PT today, all she did was standard checking me out but she was very respectful of the clot and didn't look at me like I was nuts when I burst into tears when she touched it. She actually said it looks pretty good. Then she gave me a long talk about being patient :) I must try very hard because otherwise I will make myself nuts. Plus I have a very stressful job and I am going back tomorrow after being off for 9 weeks. I hope I can get into a Croc in the morning else it is unlaced white sneakers :) "

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