What is the Connection Between Blood Clots and Leg Cramps?
It's common for people with a vein condition to experience leg cramps. Blood clots are concerning for many, and for that reason, people sometimes worry that the leg cramp symptoms they are experiencing could be a blood clot. I want to ease people's fears and explain that, while the symptoms of both appear to be similar, the two are not related. If you have a leg cramp, you don't have to worry about having a blood clot.
Is There a Connection Between Blood Clots and Leg Cramps?
The only connection is in how they both feel. Both can feel like a pinching, hurting, or aching in the leg muscle. A blood clot results in poor blood flow and circulation, which can cause leg swelling. So can a vein condition - a frequent but unrecognized cause of leg cramps. However, that's where the similarities end. Because both have leg or foot pain, it's understandable for people to think they are related.
Blood Clot vs Leg Cramp: How to Tell the Difference
There are three ways to tell the difference.
A blood clot can come on at a specific time but is not usually dramatic. It is usually experienced as aching or discomfort at first, and not pain.
By contrast, a leg cramp comes out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning, and often occurs at night. People always use the word 'painful' with a leg cramp, and they point to a specific area of the leg.
A blood clot has discomfort that can develop into actual pain. It is ongoing and isn't relieved with rest, leg elevation, or stretching. A blood clot may take days or weeks to resolve.
A leg cramp, however, comes on suddenly, lasts usually between 3-5 minutes, and then goes away. While it's cramping, the muscle is hard and tense, and then afterward is sore to touch for even a day or longer.
3. Other Symptoms
People with leg cramps may have swelling, but it's the same every day - even when they are having cramps.
People with a blood clot always have swelling that has just recently gotten worse with the development of discomfort or pain.
A blood clot does not cause a leg cramp, and a leg cramp does not cause a blood clot. Leg or foot cramps are extremely common, and just because you have one does not mean you have a blood clot.