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What Are the Treatments for an Arm Blood Clot?

author image Jacques Courseault
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.
What Are the Treatments for an Arm Blood Clot?
A nurse injects Heparin into a patient's arm. Photo Credit saritwuttisan/iStock/Getty Images


A blood clot, or deep venous thrombosis, is the formation of a hardened blood in a blood vessel. Although DVTs most commonly occur in the legs, they may also occur in the arms, particularly if the patient recently had arm surgery. A DVT is concerning because the blood clot can break off and get stuck in the brain, lungs, heart or other areas of the body, states MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health. Therefore prompt treatment of a blood clot is necessary to prevent further complications.


A patient with a suspected blood clot in the arm should seek medical treatment. Once a patient gets to the hospital the doctor will perform a history and physical exam to determine the likelihood of a blood clot in the arm. If suspicions are high, the physician will prescribe heparin, which is given through a vein, or intravenously. In this case a patient must stay in the hospital until the doctor has determined that the blood has thinned to an appropriate level. If a doctor suspects other blood clots may form, he may prescribe warfarin. However, warfarin takes a few days to take effect; therefore, heparin will be continued until the appropriate levels of warfarin are reached.

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MedlinePlus states that warfarin is a medication that can be taken by mouth to thin the blood. This medication takes several days to work, and in some cases, it may be taken for the rest of a patient’s life to prevent blood clots. If the blood clot in the arm is an isolated episode, a patient may only need to take warfarin for three months. This medication is beneficial in preventing blood clots; however, it can make a patient more likely to bleed if he experiences a cut or an internal injury that involves internal bleeding. Therefore, a patient should seek immediate medical attention if he is experiencing uncontrolled bleeding or is at risk for internal bleeding from trauma.


MayoClinic.com states that clot busters may be used to treat a blood clot in the arm. This type of treatment is reserved for more serious types of blood clots that are at risk for traveling to the lungs or to other organs. Clot busters are known as thrombolytics and are given through a vein to break up blood clots. Clot busters may be beneficial, but they may cause serious bleeding that cannot be stopped. These medications are reserved for life-threatening situations, states MayoClinic.com.

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