Vein inflammation (phlebitis)

Local and painful

Vein inflammation

What is vein inflammation?

In vein inflammation (phlebitis), the wall of a surface vein is inflamed, mostly in the region of the leg (thigh, calf, knee, foot, ankle). If the acute inflammation is in an intact vein, doctors refer to it as thrombophlebitis. Varicophlebitis (vein inflammation in a varicose vein) is more common. Vein inflammation should be treated by a doctor and may last for a few days up to several weeks. If untreated, vein inflammation can lead to dangerous thrombosis (blood clot).

Causes and risk factors for vein inflammation

The blood in varicose veins flows more slowly than usual. This makes vein inflammation more likely to develop. This slower blood flow can be worsened by other factors, including long periods of bed rest or if the vein is compressed in one place by clothing that is too tight or over a long period of time.

There is a higher risk of thrombosis, particularly in pregnancy – this also increases the risk of phlebitis for pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.

Another common reason for vein inflammation is damage and injury to the venous wall. Such injuries may be caused by

  • Infusions, during or after surgery for example,
  • taking a blood sample,
  • inserting a catheter (vein access) or
  • an insect bite

for example. If bacteria gets in, bacterial vein inflammation can also develop. The composition of the blood also plays an important role in whether vein inflammation develops. The blood coagulation tendency may be higher owing as a result of other illnesses or drinking insufficient fluids. This can lead to the development of blood clots.

Preventing vein inflammation

You can take control of actively preventing vein inflammation and other venous conditions yourself by minimising the influenceable risk factors that have been described. Some tips: 

  • Basic therapy: Wear medical compression stockings on a daily basis if your legs are prone to varicose veins.
  • Exercise: Avoid long periods of standing and sitting, and do vein exercises to activate your venous pump
  • Sport: Activities such as swimming, hiking and Nordic walking activate your veins.
  • Drink plenty of water: A lack of fluids makes the blood thicker, meaning that your risk of blood clots increases.
  • Go to your doctor: Have your varicose veins treated.
  • Risk factor: Take care of your health: Give up smoking because smoking alters the vascular walls.

Treatment of vein inflammation

The treatment for vein inflammation depends on its type and how serious it is. The doctor first establishes if the deep leg veins are affected or not.

Many patients with thrombophlebitis find that cooling the inflamed area eases the pain. Depending on the location and dimensions of the blood clot, there are different treatment methods. Treatment with anticoagulants to disperse the thrombus is possible. The clot can also be surgically removed. In some cases, just treating the symptoms is sufficient.

Basic therapy: Medical compression stockings for vein inflammation

The basic therapy involves wearing medical compression stockings that fit properly. They are particulary effective in combination with exercise: The compression stockings and activating the muscle pump ensure that the diameter of the veins is minimised. This means that the blood flows better in the direction of the heart. It no longer collects in the legs. Symptoms such as pain, swelling and feelings of tightness are significantly improved, leading to an increased quality of life.

What happens when vein inflammation is left untreated?

Be on the safe side: Inflammation of the surface veins that is discovered and treated early on can often improve within a few days without any consequences for your health. If the vein inflammation remains untreated it can lead to pain lasting many weeks and also spread further. It is particularly problematic if the vein inflammation occurs near a branch of the deep vein system. If left untreated, this can lead to deep vein thrombosis deep vein thrombosis that, in turn, can lead to dangerous pulmonary embolism.

Which doctors treat vein inflammation?

If you have vein inflammation you should consult a medical specialist (phlebologist, angiologist, vascular surgeon, dermatologist) immediately.

Medi compression stockings

Thanks to their breathable, stretchy material, medical compression stockings are very comfortable for men and women to wear and are adapted to meet your individual needs as a patient. Profit from modern, technologically advanced & tried-and-tested vein therapy with state-of-the-art medical compression stockings. They look the same as classic fine stockings or knee socks for men, but have an additional vein-supporting function..

Here you can find more informationen about medi compression stockings.


1 Rabe E et al. Indications for medical compression stockings in venous and lymphatic disorders: An evidence-based consensus statement. Phlebology 2018;33(3):163-184.

Your doctor makes the diagnosis and decides on the therapy. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe wound therapy products. The patient is advised by trained personnel (e.g. in a medical supply store, pharmacy, wound centre). After this, the patient receives products that are customised to meet their individual needs.