Hemarthrosis also called articular bleeding is when bleeding occurs in your joints.  Your joints are the places where your bones meet, and are responsible for helping you move.  There are synovial joints in your body, such as knees, hips, feet, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.  These joints have synovial fluid between the bones.  This helps the bones move smoothly and not grind together. 

When hemarthrosis occurs it floods this cavity containing the synovial fluid.  When blood floods this cavity it can have a negative effect on the synovial fluid, which can lead to joint troubles in the future.  Hemarthrosis can affect any joint, but the most common ones are knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders.  



Hemarthrosis can be caused by a number of things, which is why it is hard to know how common or how many exact cases there are.  It is deemed as a common condition that can affect anyone of age or gender.  Hemarthrosis can be caused by injury, a health condition, side effect of medications, or after having surgery. 

  • Health conditions that can lead to hemarthrosis are hemophilia, vitamin K deficiency, arthritis, cancer, and liver disease. 
  • Medications that are anticoagulants can also cause hemarthrosis. 
  • Surgeries that can lead to this condition are arthroplasty, arthroscopy, partial knee replacement, or knee osteotomy. 

If you have the condition only temporarily and it goes away without coming back you have acute hemarthrosis.  If the condition keeps recurring over time in either the same joint, or other joints you may be deemed to have chronic hemarthrosis.  




The first symptom you may notice is pain or tenderness in the joint.  After that you may see that there is a tingling, aching, or bubbling sensation at the joint. 

Swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness, excessive bruising, and decreased range of motion are all symptoms that can occur with hemarthrosis.  



Usually a doctor can diagnose hemarthrosis just by a physical exam. 

X-rays can be done to take a better look at your joints and bones.  Other imaging such as an MRI or CT scan can also be done for a more in depth look. 

Samples of the fluid in the joint can also be sent off to confirm the diagnosis.  Joint aspiration can be done with a long needle that is inserted into the joint.  The needle will collect a sample of the fluid and that will be sent away to be looked at.  Usually seeing the color of the fluid will help your doctor diagnose hemarthrosis.  Usually the fluid is a pink, red, or brownish color.  



Treatment is dependent on the cause.  If it is caused by a health condition such as hemophilia some different medications can help your blood clot more effectively which can stop hemarthrosis to recur. 

At home treatments such as the RICE method.  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, can help too.  Rest staying off the joint that is affected.  Using a cold compress on the joint for 20 minute increments.  Compression keeping it bound either in a compression sleeve, wrap, or ace bandage.  And elevating the joint above your heart. 

You can take over the counter pain relievers but make sure they aren’t blood thinners.  Blood thinners can make hemarthrosis worse.  If there is an excess of fluid in the joint your doctor may want to do joint aspiration to remove some of the buildup of fluid out of the joint cavity. 

Physical therapy that has specific moves to help range of motion, strength, and pain can also be beneficial.  Surgery can also help treat hemarthrosis. 

Surgeries that have been used to help this condition are a synovectomy which is the removal of the joint lining, a meniscectomy the removal of the meniscus, or an osteotomy. 

Treatment may be one of these things or a combination.



If hemarthrosis is left untreated, takes too long to get treatment, or reoccurs it can lead to complications.  Some complications that can arise are loss of strength in the muscles around the joining.  You may also experience pain when using the joint, or pain when the joint is at rest. 

Hemarthrosis may interfere with your performance in daily activities, like walking, carrying things, or walking up and down stairs.  Degenerative arthritis can also occur.  If you don’t seek treatment right away, have a bad bleed, or have recurrent bleeds that aren’t treated you may have permanent damage. 




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