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Superficial thrombophlebitis

  • Alternative Names

    Thrombophlebitis - superficial


    The goals of treatment are to reduce pain and inflammation and prevent complications.

    To reduce discomfort and swelling, support stockings and elevation of the affected extremity are recommended. A warm compress to the area may also be helpful.

    A catheter or IV line should be removed if it is shown to have caused the thrombophlebitis.

    Medications to treat superficial thrombophlebitis may include:

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation
    • Painkillers

    If deeper clots (deep vein thrombosis) are also present, your provider may prescribe medicines to dissolve an existing clot. Antibiotics are prescribed if you have an infection.

    Surgical removal (phlebectomy), stripping, or sclerotherapy of the affected vein are occasionally needed to treat large varicose veins or to prevent further episodes of thrombophlebitis in high-risk patients.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Superficial thrombophlebitis is usually a short-term condition that does not lead to complication. Symptoms generally go away in 1 to 2 weeks, but hardness of the vein may remain for much longer.


    Complications of superficial thrombophlebitis are rare. Possible problems may include the following:

    • Infections (cellulitis)
    • Gangrene (tissue death)
    • Septic shock
    • Deep vein thrombosis
    • Pulmonary embolism (often without symptoms)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your provider if symptoms indicate superficial thrombophlebitis may be present.

    Call your provider if you have been diagnosed with superficial thrombophlebitis and your symptoms do not improve with treatment, or if your symptoms worsen. Call the provider if any new symptoms occur, such as entire limb becoming pale, cold, or swollen, or if chills and fever develop.