Dealing with bleeds: information for young people with haemophilia
Treating bleeds as soon as they happen can help them heal quickly and reduce the long-term effects on joints or muscles. This information from the Haemophilia team at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains what to do if you've had a bleed.
How to know if you've had a bleed
Normally, the joint or muscle will feel hot, swollen and painful. You might find it more difficult to use that part of the body. Some people say that they get a fizzing feeling in the area.
What to do
Treating the joint or muscle bleed quickly is very important. You should know how much treatment to give yourself. If you've forgotten how to treat a bleed, you can call us on the phone number in the 'Contacts' box.
We suggest that you leave some treatment – either factor or DDAVP – at school, so that you or someone elsewhere can treat you quickly. As soon as you think you are having a bleed, treat yourself.
Also, remember the word PRICE – these letters stand for important steps in getting your joint or muscle better.
P is for Protection
Try to take your weight off the joint or muscle. If it's your ankle or knee, you could use a buggy or crutches. You'll need to keep your weight off the area for a couple of days.
R is for Rest
This helps the healing process. Try to allow the joint or muscle to rest. As well as keeping your weight off as above, try not to use the joint or muscle too much.
I is for Ice
Ice can help with pain, reduce bleeding and swelling. Put an ice pack, wrapped in a tea towel, over the affected area for 20 minutes maximum. You can repeat this every two hours. Don't leave the ice pack on for more than 20 minutes, or repeat it more often than every two hours, or put the ice pack directly on your skin.
C is for Compression
Sometimes an elasticated bandage can help reduce swelling. Make sure you are using the right size.
E is for Elevation
This can also help reduce swelling by moving the blood away from the joint or muscle. Elevate the affected joint or muscle. If it is your ankle or knee, you could lie on the sofa with your leg on some cushions. If it is your elbow or hand, you could rest it along the back of the sofa or put it in a sling.
After you have had a bleed, it's important to make sure that your joints and muscles move in the same way and are as strong as before the bleed. Sometimes, you'll need to come to the Haemophilia Centre to see the physiotherapist. You may have exercises to do, which will help your joints and muscles heal well, or you may have treatment in the hydrotherapy pool or gym.