Sitting during a long flight or car ride can cause swollen ankles and calves. The inactivity also increases your risk of thrombophlebitis in the veins of your legs. To help prevent a blood clot from forming:
- Take a walk. If you're flying, walk around the airplane cabin once an hour or so. If you're driving, stop every hour or so and walk around.
- If you must stay seated, move your legs regularly. Flex your ankles, or carefully press your feet against the floor or footrest in front of you at least 10 times each hour.
On flights or for car rides lasting more than four hours, take additional precautions to reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis:
- Avoid wearing tight clothing.
- Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Stretch your calves by walking at least once an hour.
If you're at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, talk to your doctor before your flight. He or she may recommend that you use:
Feb. 22, 2014
- Compression stockings
- Any prescribed blood-thinning medication as directed
- Torpy JM, et al. Thrombophlebitis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;305:1372.
- Deep vein thrombosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dvt/printall-index.html. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Venous thromboembolism diagnosis and treatment. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_cardiovascular_guidelines/vte_treatment/. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Fernandez L, et al. Superficial thrombophlebitis of the lower extremity. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/peripheral_venous_disorders/deep_venous_thrombosis_dvt.html. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis, 9th ed. Northbrook, Ill.: American College of Chest Physicians. http://journal.publications.chestnet.org/article.aspx?articleid=1159399. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- Di Nisio M, et al. Treatment for superficial thrombophlebitis of the leg. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004982.pub5/abstract. Accessed Oct. 3, 2013.
- McBane RD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 11, 2013.