Joint Damage

How does joint damage occur?

People with bleeding disorders can bleed into a joint after an injury or without obvious cause. This is called hemarthrosis. The pressure of blood entering the joint cavity displaces tissue and causes pain and swelling.

Joint damage, such as arthritis, can occur after repeated bleeding into the same joint or after one serious joint bleed. Over time, joints can become severely damaged, causing chronic and/or acute pain and restricted range of motion in that joint. Bleeding can occur in any joint, but the joints typically affected include the elbows, ankles and knees.

What are the symptoms of a joint bleed?

  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Loss of motion
  • Stiffness

Small children may not be able to describe the symptoms above. Here are some signs to watch for in small children:

  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Favoring a limb
  • Refusing to walk

What should you do if you suspect a joint bleed?

It is very important pay attention to the signs of a joint bleed. Early treatment with clotting factor or other appropriate medication is crucial to reduce the risk of joint damage. In addition to medical treatment, use “PRICE” help a bleeding joint feel better and minimize damage:

  • Protect the joint with a brace or ace bandage
  • Rest the joint
  • Ice the bleeding or swollen joint
  • Compress the joint if possible to minimize swelling
  • Elevate the joint if possible

To learn more about joint health, please check out the Joint Health courses in the Wellness Center in Learning Central.

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