Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Learning About Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Learning About Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)

Leg veins, with detail of healthy vein and valve and of damaged vein that allows blood to leak backward

What is post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS)?

Post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) is a problem that can happen after you've had a deep vein blood clot, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). After a while, this blood clot (usually in your leg) can cause the pressure in your vein to rise. This pressure can damage the vein. PTS is also called post-phlebitic syndrome.

Veins have valves that keep the blood moving in one direction—toward the heart. With PTS, the valves in a damaged vein may not work well. Some blood may leak backward through the valve. PTS can cause long-term problems such as swelling, skin damage, and painful sores (venous skin ulcers) near the ankle.

PTS can be a long-term problem that lasts for years.

What are the symptoms?

When you have PTS, you may have discomfort, pain, sores, and swelling in your leg. There may be a brownish colour to your skin. The skin may be itchy and dry, and it may peel.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will probably be able to diagnose PTS from your medical history, your symptoms, and a physical examination. You might have an ultrasound test so your doctor can check blood flow in your veins.

How is it treated?

You may wear specially fitted compression stockings to treat PTS. Your doctor may also discuss wearing an intermittent pneumatic compression device. It inflates and deflates knee-high boots. These stockings and devices help move the blood in your legs. They may help with pain and swelling.

Propping up your leg may reduce pain and swelling.

Exercise may help relieve PTS symptoms. Your doctor might suggest strength training for your legs. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, can also help. Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise program.

For people who have severe symptoms, surgery or a catheter procedure might be done to restore blood flow. But these procedures aren't done often.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter P085 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.