In most cases, venous thrombosis
occurs in the legs. However, thrombosis in the arm veins is not rare. Thrombosis is the formation of clots inside the veins, causing a blockage in the normal blood circulation. In the arm, venous thrombosis causes pain, swelling, redness and difficult to move the muscles. Sometimes, the shoulder veins become enlarged. The diagnosis is usually made with a Doppler ultrasound scan.
The most common causes of arm thrombosis are:
-Thoracic outlet compression
used for chemotherapy or hemodialysis
Thoracic outlet compression causes a special type of arm thrombosis named effort thrombosis
. Thoracic outlet is the narrow space that is crossed by the arm veins between the clavicle and the first rib. In some people, the thoracic outlet is narrower than the usual. This may cause compression in the arm veins, which leads to thrombosis. Thoracic outlet compression generally affects young and health individuals, which have well developed muscles. They usually perform repetitive movements. This condition is common in athletes. Despite this fact, people that do not practice any sport can have arm thrombosis due to anatomical alterations in the bones and muscles.
Arm effort thrombosis is treated with rest and medications that block clots formation (anticoagulants). In most cases, surgery is recommended to remove the cause of thoracic outlet compression. Normally, the first rib and some neck muscles are responsible for the compression and need to be removed for adequate treatment.
Thrombophilia is a tendency to form clots. When it is of genetic origin, it is common to have several thrombosis cases in the same family. Thrombophilia causes spontaneous thrombosis in uncommon sites, such as the arms. Anticoagulants are the adequate treatment in most cases. Preventive measures can avoid a new thrombosis.
Arm thrombosis can also be caused by catheters that are used for chemotherapy or hemodialysis. Anticoagulants are the treatment of choice. If the catheter still works after thrombosis, normally it is not necessary to remove it.