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Haemophilia and joint disease: pathophysiology, evaluation, and management.

In patients with haemophilia, regular replacement therapy with clotting factor concentrates (prophylaxis) is effective in preventing recurrent bleeding episodes into joints and muscles. However, despite this success, intra-articular and intramuscular bleeding is still a major clinical manifestation of the disease. Bleeding most commonly occurs in the knees, elbows, and ankles, and is often evident from early childhood. The pathogenesis of haemophilic arthropathy is multifactorial, with changes occurring in the synovium, bone, cartilage, and blood vessels. Recurrent joint bleeding causes synovial proliferation and inflammation (haemophilic synovitis) that contribute to end-stage degeneration (haemophilic arthropathy); with pain and limitation of motion severely affecting patients' quality of life. If joint bleeding is not treated adequately, it tends to recur, resulting in a vicious cycle that must be broken to prevent the development of chronic synovitis and degenerative arthritis. Effective prevention and management of haemophilic arthropathy includes the use of early, aggressive prophylaxis with factor replacement therapies, as well as elective procedures, including restorative physical therapy, analgesia, aspiration, synovectomy, and orthopaedic surgery. Optimal treatment of patients with haemophilia requires a multidisciplinary team comprising a haematologist, physiotherapist, orthopaedic practitioner, rehabilitation physician, occupational therapist, psychologist, social workers, and nurses. Journal of Comorbidity 2011;1:51-59.

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