As shown in the table below, the most common areas of bleeding in people with haemophilia are the joints and muscles of the arms and legs. Less commonly, bleeds may occur in the mouth, gums, nose, genitourinary tract or brain.
|Site of bleeding||Approximate frequency|
|Other major bleeds (e.g. mucous membranes in the mouth, gums, nose and genitourinary tract)||5-10%|
|Central nervous system (e.g. the brain)||<5%|
- Occur most commonly in the knees, elbows and ankles.
- Usually starts by feeling warm and tingly, and then as blood fills the joint capsule, the joint swells and becomes painful and difficult to move.
- Repeated bleeds can weaken a joint over time, which may eventually lead to permanent damage to the joint.
- Most seriously affect muscles of the hips, calves, thighs and forearms.
- Can go unnoticed for some time before discomfort develops.
- May cause the limbs to swell and become warm and painful to touch.
- Bruising can occur near the surface.
- In deeper muscles, the swelling may press on nerves or arteries, which can cause numbness and then pins and needles. This may eventually lead to muscle spasm and cause the muscle to temporarily seize up. This requires immediate management to prevent permanent damage and loss of function.
Other types of bleeds
Many children with haemophilia have nose and mouth bleeds and some adults will also continue to have these types of bleeds. In addition, children with haemophilia often bruise more easily than other children, especially when they’re learning to walk. This is often what leads to the initial diagnosis of haemophilia.
If you have any questions about common types of bleeds in people with haemophilia, contact your Haemophilia Treatment Centre for additional information.