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What Are the Symptoms of a Blood Clot in the Arm?

Blood clots that form in the arm may travel to other parts of the body resulting in a medical emergency.
Severe arm pain may be a symptom of a blood clot in the arm.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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Recognizing and treating a blood clot in the arm is important since it can break off and travel to other areas of the body, such as the lungs, which can make it hard to breathe. One of the first symptoms of this issue is redness where the clot is located, which is often accompanied by tenderness and warmth in the same area. In fact, the mild tenderness sometimes gradually becomes a dull ache or even constant pain if it is not treated. Some patients also notice swelling near the red area, though it is also possible for the entire arm to swell up. If the blood clot gets to the lungs before being treated, patients may cough up blood, experience chest pain, and have a hard time breathing.

One of the first symptoms of a blood clot in the arm is often a red, inflamed area, which marks the location of the clot. The redness is usually accompanied by a feeling of warmth. If it is not treated soon after the red spot appears, patients may experience some tenderness, which may turn into severe pain the longer the clot goes without detection and treatment. Eventually, skin ulcers and blisters may develop over the red spot, and the skin may start to shed due to the continued presence of the blood clot in the arm.

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Swelling may be noticeable in the red, tender part of the arm, though the entire limb can become swollen in some cases. The vein that surrounds the clot usually becomes inflamed, which is why the arm may swell up. While sometimes the swelling is obvious with just a glance at the arm, some patients do not notice it until they compare one arm to the other. In general, the amount of inflammation tends to depend on the size of the blood clot in the arm.

The most serious issue about a blood clot in a limb is the possibility of it traveling to important organs. For example, a blood clot in the arm may detach and end up in the lungs. This complication often leads to difficulty breathing, a fast heart rate, and chest pain. Some patients may begin coughing up blood, and may also notice feelings of weakness and dizziness in general. When these symptoms occur in combination with the other less serious signs of a blood clot in the arm, emergency treatment should be sought.

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