About Physiatry

About Physiatry

Do you work with an institution or company looking to learn more about Physiatry?

Learn more about partnerships with AAPM&R.

Venous Thromboembolism

Condition: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot in the veins. Types of VTE include superficial (in veins close to the skin), deep vein thrombosis (in veins deep in the muscles) and pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a blockage in the lungs.

Background: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) develops when blood pools then clots, and often occurs in a leg. Sometimes these clots loosen and travel to the lung causing a PE. In the U.S., more than 600,000 people develop a VTE and nearly half die from it.

Risk Factors:  Anyone who is inactive for long periods is at risk for a VTE, from a patient post-surgery to a long-distance traveler. However, there are many risk factors: cancer, smoking, stroke and obesity are just some of them.   

History and Symptoms: Sudden pain or swelling in one calf only is one symptom. DVT’s in an upper limb often cause sudden arm swelling. With PE, difficulty breathing is usually the primary symptom.

Physical Exam: To check for a DVT, healthcare providers usually examine each calf to see if it is tender or has edema (watery fluid). There are no physical exams to determine if a patient has PE, but doctors often check for low blood oxygen, and if the patient is breathing rapidly and has an increased heart rate.

Diagnostic Process: Only about 33% of VTE patients are diagnosed correctly. If a VTE is diagnosed during DVT, a patient has a better chance of survival.

Rehab Management:  To encourage circulation so blood is less likely to clot, frequent movement is encouraged. Patients can also wear compression stockings which help with circulation. If patients are on blood thinners, they should follow all instructions.

Other Resources for Patients and Families: Patient and family education about VTEs is critical since VTEs are dangerous, yet many can be avoided.

For Patients and Families:

View all Conditions & Treatments
Learn more about Physiatry

Find a Physician


Read the full PM&R Knowledge NOW® article at:

PM&R Knowledge NOW® Authors Needed

Participate in the development of PM&R Knowledge NOW® by applying to be an author of a 1,700-word summary of a clinical topic.

View a list of available topics and learn more about how to apply. Volunteering your time and expertise to is a great way to get published and recognized among your peers as a participant in this ground-breaking initiative!