Drivers, especially long-haul truckers, who sit for long periods of time, risk development of circulatory problems, usually in their legs. Phlebitis and DVTs can develop suddenly and both require medical attention.
- Phlebitis – Veins are inflamed, the skin is red, swollen, and often painful.
- Thrombophlebitis – There is a clot in the vein causing swelling and pain.
Blood clots can develop after an injury to an arm or a leg, recent surgery (primarily knee surgery), or having an intravenous (IV) line. And sometimes there is no apparent reason, but truckers are especially prone because of their long hours sitting in the truck.
Being overweight is another risk factor. Usually, the body will dissolve small clots on its own, but inactivity slows blood flow and gravity causes blood to pool in the legs, creating a prime condition for blood clots to form.
There are three common symptoms of the condition prevalent with individuals who spend a lot of time sitting (as professional truck drivers do). Those symptoms include:
- Swelling and warmth of the lower leg or arm
- Red or discolored skin
- Pain or tenderness in the area
Remember to take advantage of every opportunity you have to safely stand up and stretch your arms, legs, and torso .Stay hydrated to help reduce some of the health risks associated with prolonged positioning.
How do you know if you have Phlebitis/DVT
People often put off seeing a doctor, thinking it will go away as quickly as it appeared. Truckers on the road may wait until they are home to see their own doctor.
While the symptoms – redness, swelling, warmth, pain – are good indicators of a diagnosis of Phlebitis, a vascular ultrasound will confirm the diagnosis. And, because 20% of people with Phlebitis also develop DVT, the ultrasound is very important.
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. It occurs when a blood clot forms in the large veins, usually in the lower leg or thigh. When a blood clot forms in a leg or arm, it can travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lung. This is called a Pulmonary Embolism, and it can be life-threatening, which is why regular checkups and watching for unusual symptoms are critically important to professional CDL drivers.
Good and Healthy Advice for Short and Long-Haul Truckers
Sitting and driving long distances over an extended period of time increases the risk of developing Phlebitis and DVT. Older age, smoking, and obesity increase that risk.
Move Around – Get out of your truck every couple of hours and walk around!
Think you drink a lot of beverages throughout the day? Well if those beverages include high-sodium soda’s or coffee, they are diuretics, or actually, help dehydrate you (instead of providing adequate hydration to your cells and vital organs. Remember to balance plain water in between every giant cup of coffee you bring into your cab.
Wear Compression Socks
Hey, they aren’t just for diabetics you know. Compression socks actually put pressure on your calves and encourage blood flow to improve circulation. For anyone who remains seated throughout the workday, they can be a valuable way to lower the risk of blood clots.
If You’re Overweight, Lose Weight
Obesity can double the risk of many serious and life-threatening chronic health conditions. Set a goal and start working on managing a healthy body weight, which will help you address lower back pain, and other related symptoms and discomfort.
Reduce Salt Intake
Even one salty meal can impair circulation. Over time, a high sodium diet can narrow arteries making them vulnerable to blood clots. Some of the healthiest drivers on the road pack their own meals and snacks because fast-food and sodas are notoriously high in sodium. Make a healthier choice (and save some money too) by packing your own lunch.
Work Your Muscles While Driving
Tighten the muscles in your legs, wiggle your toes, flex your feet! Check out some low impact stretching activities that you can safely do while seated behind the wheel of your truck. YouTube has a number of free videos that you can use to find some exercises that work for you.
If You Smoke – Stop.
Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation plan, as tobacco use can narrow blood vessels, veins, and arteries and contribute to increased risk of blood clots and other cardiac health emergencies. Smoking over the long-term can also damage lung health, making it easier for truck drivers to acquire upper respiratory infections and coughs.
Monitor Your Activity
A pedometer is good. A FITBIT is better! Along with tracking steps, it can also monitor your weight, food and water intake, non-walking activities, and sleep. Think of it as a small assistant that will help you remember to make healthy choices every day.
At Canal Cartage, we care about our owner-operator drivers. Talk to your doctor about healthy changes you can start making today, to reduce your risk of developing chronic disease and other circulatory impairments and make some important lifestyle changes that will help you to enjoy your career in the thriving American trucking industry.