What Causes Vein Inflammation?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Vein inflammation, medically known as phlebitis, occurs when the veins become swollen and irritated. The causes for vein inflammation are varied, and in some cases the direct cause for this condition is never found. The development of blood clots is believed to be the most common cause of the condition. Other potential causes include surgical procedures, physical injury, and lifestyle choices.

Blood clots are a leading cause of vein inflammation. Blood clots may develop in the veins due to medical conditions such as heart disease or circulation problems. Many surgical procedures also carry the risk of causing blood clots. In fact, this is one of the primary complications that the medical team will try to prevent during and after surgery.

Prolonged periods of inactivity may contribute to the development of vein inflammation. When the body does not move for long periods of time, the blood may not be able to circulate properly. This often causes pools of blood to develop inside the veins. This accumulation of blood can either develop into a blood clot, or the excess pressure can cause the vein to swell.

Certain lifestyle choices may cause a person to be at greater risk for developing vein inflammation. Some of these risk factors include smoking and obesity. These risk factors are greatly reduced if the patient stops smoking and adopts a healthier lifestyle. A healthy diet and exercise program may significantly reduce the chances of vein inflammation for many people.


Vein inflammation is relatively common during pregnancy and tends to go away on its own following the birth of the baby. If this inflammation causes a significant amount of pain or discomfort, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation. Women who take birth control pills or other forms of hormone therapy may have an increased risk of inflammation and blood clots, especially women who are more than the age of 35.

Blood disorders or certain types of cancer may cause phlebitis. Patients with these conditions will likely be monitored closely by medical professionals in an attempt to prevent this type of complication. Physical injuries, especially those involving the arms or the legs, often cause some degree of inflammation involving the veins. Any questions or concerns about vein inflammation or the risks of developing blood clots should be addressed with a doctor. Patients who have been diagnosed with phlebitis will usually need to be monitored closely by a doctor so that any potential complications can be diagnosed as early as possible.


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