Primary Care Physician
Dr. Orrange received her BA in Biology at the University of California, San Diego, and a Masters Degree in Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She received her MD from the USC Keck School of…
Can I exercise when I have DVT?
Posted in Deep Vein Throm... by Dr. Sharon Orrange on Jun 08, 2010
"After at least 8 DVT's and 2 PE's, I have had 2 DVT's in the last 10 months! Last one in late April. I still have quite a bit of pain, can I ride my bike yet? Somedays it still hurts to walk and the swelling is still pretty bad. All 8 have been in the left leg. My Dr. says she doesn’t know. I guess it’s based on how much pain? By now I assume the clots are safely adherent wont move? I do have a Filter but have had a clot pass and get in my lung before. Any advice?"

Yes, if you are on proper anticoagulation you can exercise with a history of recurrent DVT. In fact, there are many studies documenting that exercise, even with an acute DVT, is safe and actually may improve your risk of swelling after DVT. If you still have swelling and pain you want to make sure you are wearing your compression stockings but yes, you can ride your bike.

Here are some of the details from a 2008 review of previous studies asking this very question. The risks and benefits of physical activity were assessed in patients with an acute or previous DVT of the leg. Seven randomized trials and two observational studies compared early exercise to bed rest and found similar short-term risk of pulmonary embolism in patients with acute DVT and MORE RAPID resolution of limb pain in the exercise group. In patients with previous DVT, 30 min of vigorous treadmill exercise did not worsen venous symptoms and improved calf muscle flexibility; a 6 month exercise training program improved calf muscle strength and pump function; and high levels of physical activity at one month tended to be associated with reduced severity of post thrombotic symptoms during the subsequent 3 months. Findings like these give us confidence to conclude that exercise training does not increase leg symptoms in patients with a previous DVT and may help to prevent or improve the post thrombotic syndrome.

Go get on that bike!

Dr O.

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