Patient With Rheumatoid Arthritis With Deep Vein Thrombosis Presenting as a Calf Strain

A Case Report

Trevor Lewis

Disclosures

J Med Case Reports. 2020;14(114) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Background: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis experience various comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease. More data and awareness exist regarding the adverse effects of rheumatoid arthritis affecting the arterial side of the cardiovascular system, such as stroke or myocardial infarction, than regarding adverse venous complications, such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than men, and the risk of venous thromboembolism in rheumatoid arthritis tends to increase with age; therefore, the presentation in this case report of deep vein thrombosis in a nonsmoking, young, fit man with rheumatoid arthritis is rare. This patient was sent away from a minor injuries unit with a diagnosis of a calf strain. Further assessment at an accident and emergency department later in the day confirmed deep vein thrombosis via ultrasonography. This case report underlines the need for vigilance because deep vein thrombosis is a risk factor in rheumatoid arthritis, even in young, male, and physically fit individuals.

Case Presentation: A nonsmoking 39-year-old Caucasian man with a 2-year history of rheumatoid arthritis presented for assessment at a private physiotherapy clinic with a 4-week history of right-sided posterior calf pain that had developed following exercise at a gym. The patient therefore believed his symptoms were due to a calf strain. Findings at physiotherapy assessment suggested that the actual cause of the patient's symptoms were as a result of deep vein thrombosis. The patient was directed to a local minor injuries unit with a referral letter from the author outlining this diagnosis. Following clinical assessment at the minor injuries unit, the patient was told that there was no likelihood of deep vein thrombosis, and his diagnosis was a calf strain. The patient harbored concerns at this point and decided to seek further medical opinion at a nearby accident and emergency department, where deep vein thrombosis was diagnosed using ultrasonography, and the patient was commenced on anticoagulants.

Conclusions: Venous thromboembolism risk in rheumatoid arthritis is stated as being less recognized as an arterial complication. This is borne out by this patient's clinical journey, wherein his youth, fitness, athletic appearance, and onset of symptoms during exercise were said to suggest a diagnosis of a calf strain at a minor injuries unit. Ultrasonography at a different accident and emergency unit later that day ultimately was used to diagnose deep vein thrombosis.

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