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Thrombophlebitis and muscle strain

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About two weeks ago I noticed my left calf was sore/throbbing with an occassional quick cramp deep in the meat of the muscle. I then noticed my left calf muscle was slightly swollen compared to the right. I went to the ER and was told it was a muscle strain but did an ultrasound to rule out DVT. Two days later it was still swollen and crampy. Heat, elevation and ibuprofin did not help. I returned to the ER and was told it was superficial thrombophlebitis and the doc said she could feel the "cord" running up my calf. Three days later, no change in swelling or pain, I went to my family practice doc. She said she could also feel the "cord" but didn't know what it was. She referred me to an orthapedist today who told me it was a muscle tear and that the "cord" was a tendon. I'm very confused and frustrated with the different answers. How can I tell if it's superficial thrombophlebitis or a muscle issue? I have also suffered from a bad lower back for yrs... Could this be a factor?

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replied February 6th, 2010
Vascular and Circulatory Disorders Answer A9786
Hi and welcome to the forum! I am glad that I can help you.

You would like to know what the difference is between superficial thrombophlebitis and muscle strain.

Thrombophlebitis is condition when the inner lining of a vein is inflamed and thrombus is formed at the area of the inflamed lining. It may occur spontaneously or as a complication of a medical procedure, or due to local trauma and injury to a vein, prolonged inactivity, sedentary lifestyle (inactivity with little or no exercise), obesity, smoking, hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, pregnancy, certain medical conditions (such as cancer or blood disorders, that increase the clotting potential of the blood), injury to the arms or legs. The symptoms may be worsened when the leg is lowered (early in the morning while getting out of bed). If an infection is present, symptoms may include redness, fever, pain, swelling, or breakdown of the skin.

A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon in which the muscle fibers tear as a result of overstretching. A strain is characterized with localized pain, stiffness, discoloration, strange odors and bruising around the strained muscle.

According to the data that you described you may be experiencing superficial thrombophlebitis or muscle strain. See a vascular surgeon to rule out superficial thrombophlebitis. You may need a small surgery if the diagnosis of muscle strain is confirmed.

Please keep in mind that I provide medical information only. I am not able to diagnose medical conditions online. Please contact your doctor for further advice and information about diagnosis and treatment of both superficial thrombophlebitis and muscle strain.

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