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Updated on October 4, 2009


So often people are scared to seek medical advice due to fear of the unknown.They would rather not know what is wrong with them than go to a doctor or hospital.

Would it therefore not be better to pluck up the courage to check for yourself? This will help twofold.Firstly, if you discover it is not what you thought it might be, you can at least relax.

Secondly, if you discover that it IS what you though it might be, knowing for sure may well bring you to the sensible decision that actually,you know you have something seriously wrong and you are left with two choices. You can ignore it but not hope it will get better on its own because you now know it won't, or get to hospital, get it treated and get it better before it gets worse!

So, let us assume you have had a stiff calf for a few days which is now painful. Is it just a muscle strain or is it a deep vein thrombosis?


Is it hot to touch?

Is it red?

Is it swollen?

Do you have a high temperature?

Do you have a pedal pulse present?

To decide if it is hot to touch, just compare it to the good leg by feeling them both.

It will be obvious whether or not it is red.

To know for sure if it is swollen, get a tape measure and measure around the fattest part of the calf. Measure the good one also. There will always be a slight difference, but if there is a great difference (3" or above)then it is certainly swollen.

I the foot cold and/or blue?

Take your temperature. If it is above normal range (36.5-37.2c / 98.4f)keep a check on it.

Your pedal pulse is in your foot, on the top of the foot. It would be a good idea to do this on the good foot first so that you know exactly where to look for it on the bad one.

Put your first and middle finger on top of your foot where the big toe meets the second toe.

Now in a straight line bring your fingers back towards you until you are midway between the toes and the front of your ankle. Somewhere in this region you should feel a beating pulse. It can be very slightly to the left, right, above or below the area you are currently feeling as it varies in different people.

If you feel nothing, press harder and give it a little rub. Now try again.This is why I suggested that you do it on the good foot first, because it should be in exactly the same place on the bad foot. Once you have found it mark it with a biro with an X so that you will know exactly where to go next time.

NEVER use your thumb to take a pulse because the thumb has a little pulse of it's own and you could mistakenly be feeling that.


If there is minor swelling, the calf is warm but not hot, you have no temperature and you have a strong pedal pulse present and your foot is not cold or blue, then you should really get to hospital because although not an emergency, getting it looked at sooner rather than later will be better as I will explain later. If the heat, the swelling, the redness increases,your foot turns cold and/or bluish mauve, your temperature goes up and/or your pedal pulse is weaker or absent, get to hospital immediately.

There is absolutely nothing to scared of. All they will do if you don't leave it too late is give you somethiong to thin the blood. If you leave it thinking it will go away or get better, the clot may impede the circulation and then there will be need for surgical removal of the clot. This rarely happens though.

So now you know how to check both on yourself and other people who may be worried.


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    • profile image

      Ali Clare 2 years ago

      Cramps every night leg cold but have a pulse in feet

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      shadows 3 years ago

      Sometimes dvts will only have a slight amount of pain in thr leg. It honestly depends on the person. This is something that shouldn't be guess work.... if you are even concerned about it go in! Or at least call your gp/pcp. Dvts kill people every day. Movement causes the clot to break and the clot goes into the heart, lungs and/or brain.

    • profile image

      shanu 3 years ago

      Um sufring from DVT but it start like cellulites , know one judge what I am suffering from, i was in Lot of pain, it starts from my right leg and reached to lung's i was not able to breathe, doc admitted me in icu, then i got some relief,but now um having pain in my same thigh,um on medications but not getting relief from pain

      , suggest me what to do

    • profile image

      Seagull77 5 years ago

      You had me freaking out there. The only sign I had is my calf and knee are slightly bigger (about an 1" to 1.5"). The knee has been looked at and is normal uneven fatty tissue but I'm always worried about my calf.

      For those looking for the pedal pulse, it may NOT be in the same place on both feet. I could not find it in my bad foot so I was freaking out a bit.

      Tip to finding it: use 3 fingers (your pointer index and ring finger) and come down from your ankle if the other method doesn't work. Just place fingers slightly to the left of the big line to your big toe and inch towards your toes.

      That's how I found mine. It's slightly more centered and just a bit back from the other but it was nice and very strong.

    • firerie profile image

      firerie 6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Ability to dorsiflex is an important criteria. That was the only one I exhibited (other than pain) when I had a DVT.

    • profile image

      mike 6 years ago


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      7 years ago

      Not an idiot. So true! I had a dvt before and I almost died!!!

    • profile image

      Mojo 7 years ago

      Your an idiot. Quit spreading inaccurate medical information.

    • profile image

      Kellsey 8 years ago

      Uh, yes there is something to be scared of. DVT's are very serious and pose multiple threats. DVT's can cause permanent damage to your veins, making them more at risk to clot again. Your leg can also remain permanently swollen if not treated immediately. Even worse, a DVT puts one at risk of a Pulmonary Embolism which can be deadly. Being placed on a blood thinner prevents the clot from getting bigger while the body naturally breaks it down, but there is still a risk of the clot breaking into smaller clots and moving to the lungs.