Here is an exclusive preview of Arthritis in Hemophilia: Sorting Out the Causes and Treatment of Joint Pain – one of the Perspectives resources. Arthritis in Hemophilia explains what arthritis is and how it impacts you as an adult with hemophilia.
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Arthritis Pain vs. a Bleed:
Can you always tell the difference?
When you have pain in a joint, it’s not always easy to tell whether its cause is arthritis or a bleed. Some people with hemophilia can tell the difference immediately, but others have some trouble. Your healthcare providers also may have a hard time telling the cause of your pain.
Generally, a joint bleed causes pain, swelling, and limitation of movement. Stiffness or tightness can also occur. Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, and reduced function in your joints.1-2 Obviously, there are some overlapping symptoms that could cause confusion in detecting the source of the problem.
Once blood fills a joint, it becomes warm and swollen.3 By then, you probably know it’s a bleed. But you want to identify and treat a bleed in the earlier stages, before it reaches that point, to help prevent damage. Also, if you infuse your factor when the pain starts and it doesn’t stop the pain, it may be due to arthritis rather than a bleed.
Controlling Arthritis Pain with Andy
Most people don’t realize it because of my lifestyle, but I have some pretty bad joints. Both of my elbows, both of my ankles, and my right knee are all target joints. But I don’t let the pain keep me from staying active and doing the things I love to do, like traveling, golfing, and kayaking.*
Most of my joint problems are caused by arthropathy from repeated bleeds in the past, but I’m also starting to get osteoarthritis, which adds an extra challenge. There’s really no difference between arthropathy and osteoarthritis in terms of the pain itself, but there are some differences in how and when the pain occurs.
The osteoarthritis seems to be more sensitive to weather changes, so pain starts when a new weather system moves in. Also, when I get pain or stiffness in joints that haven’t had bleeding problems, like my fingers, it’s probably osteoarthritis.
I’ve had some medical procedures performed in the past that have helped lessen the pain in my joints. In 1981, I had a synovectomy on my knee.† After the affected tissues were removed, I had fewer bleeds, which, for me, helped improve movement.
I also had arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. The doctor went in and cleaned up the joints by removing damaged cartilage and debris. The results were definitely noticeable, with less pain and better function.
†NOTE:ThereForYou.com does not recommend a particular treatment for specific individuals and recommends that you consult your treatment center or physician before pursuing any course of treatment.
“So, for me, it’s all about staying active. The more I do, the more I’m able to do – and the more I’m able to enjoy – with less pain.”*
*NOTE:Not all activities are appropriate for all people with hemophilia. Consult with your healthcare professional about which activities are appropriate for you and what safety precautions to take.
- Osteoarthritis fact sheet. Arthritis Foundation website. http://www.arthritis.org/media/newsroom/Osteoarthritis%20fact%20sheet%20from%20AF-Final%2012_10_09.pdf. Accessed June 8, 2011.
- Altman RD. Early management of osteoarthritis. AM J Manag Care. 2010;16:S41-S47.
- Gilbert MS. Musculoskeletal Complications of Hemophilia: The Joint. Montreal, QC: World Federation of Hemophilia; 1997.