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If You're Feeling This in Your Leg, It's Time to See a Doctor

Some pain can indicate a more serious condition.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Random aches and pains are a fact of life—one that's more common as we get older. Most of the time, they're just irritating and inconvenient. But some pain can indicate a more serious condition, and some warrant medical attention ASAP. You know that chest pain may be suspicious of a heart attack. But you should also know that if you're feeling this in your leg, you should consult your doctor. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Be Alert For This Feeling in Your Leg

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If you feel swelling, pain, or warmth in your leg—which may be accompanied by reddening of the skin—you should seek medical attention ASAP. It may be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops most often in the leg. It can be dangerous or even fatal.

2

Why DVT Is Dangerous

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"Blood clots can develop in the veins in your legs and block the blood flow in different parts of your body, depending on where the clot travels," says Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. "The clot can travel to your lungs (pulmonary emboli or PE) or your brain, causing a stroke. Blood clots are extremely dangerous, even deadly in unusual cases."

3

Risk Factors for DVT

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Experts say that if any of these apply to you and you're experiencing swelling, pain or warmth in your leg, you should seek medical advice immediately: 

  • You've traveled within the last 90 days (such as a long flight or drive)
  • You've experienced moderate to severe injury, like a fall, bruise or broken bone
  • You've had surgery recently 
  • You're using hormonal birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • You've recently had cancer
  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, have fainted, or are coughing up blood
4

How to Avoid DVT

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"The best way to prevent DVTs include regular exercise, controlling weight gain and obesity, stopping smoking and avoiding sitting for prolonged periods of time," says Ross. 

Experts say you can reduce your risk of blood clots by practicing heart-healthy habits. Those include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in a healthy range.

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael