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Venous Thromboembolism encompasses the two conditions of Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolisms (PE). It is the third most common cardiovascular disease where there is a clot formation either in the deep venous system or in the arteries of the lungs. Due to the various clinical presentations, there may be an instance whereby you present to a Physiotherapist for the management of a musculoskeletal injury and instead receive the suspected diagnosis of a clot.

The following document aims to inform outline the possible signs, risk factors and steps for management.

Signs and symptoms

The following symptoms may present in a cluster or as individual symptoms. They may also vary in severity and do not confirm the diagnosis of a clot. Your Physiotherapist will evaluate your presentation during your subjective history and refer for further investigation if warranted.  

Signs may include:

  • Swelling usually of the arm/leg
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness of the skin
  • Warmth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Low blood pressure or instances of fainting

Risk factors

There are some factors that may increase the likelihood of a clot formation from recent events to biological features. Therefore, a thorough history is taken during consultation, to ensure that no information is missed when gaining a clinical diagnosis.

The following list indicates some causes which may increase the risk of clots:  

  • Hospitalisation or recent surgery
  • Serious injury
  • Prolonged period of bed rest or sitting
  • Increased oestrogen with pregnancy, hormonal therapy, or the oral contraceptive pill
  • Chronic illness
  • Obesity
  • Previous history
  • Age
  • Venous injury


In the event that you have a suspected clot, immediate contact with your treating Doctor or the Emergency Department is required for diagnosis.  Dependent on the location of the clot imaging via a Venous Doppler Ultrasound or an X-ray will be completed. Further pathology testing may be required from here. Management is usually via anticoagulants (blood thinners) which may be administered orally or via injection.

If you have any concerns or questions about your symptoms, contacting Emergency Services is recommended.