Complications may occur from the condition or from the treatment for the condition:

  • Deep internal bleeding. Hemophilia may cause deep muscle bleeding that leads to swelling of a limb. The swelling may press on nerves and lead to numbness or pain. This may result in a reluctance to use that limb.
  • Damage to joints. Internal bleeding may also put pressure on and damage joints. Pain sometimes may be severe, and you may be reluctant to use a limb or move a joint. If bleeding occurs frequently and you don't receive adequate treatment, the irritation may lead to destruction of the joint or the development of arthritis.
  • Infection. People with hemophilia are more likely to receive blood transfusions and are at greater risk of receiving contaminated blood products. Until the mid-1980s, it was more likely for people with hemophilia to become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or with hepatitis through contaminated blood products. Since then, blood products are much safer because of steps taken to screen the supply of donated blood. The risk of infection through blood products also has decreased substantially since the introduction of genetically engineered clotting products called recombinant factors, which are free of infection. However, it's still possible for people who rely on blood products to contract diseases. If you have hemophilia, consider receiving immunization against hepatitis A and B.
  • Adverse reaction to clotting factor treatment. In some people with hemophilia, the immune system sees these clotting factor treatments as foreign. When this happens, the immune system develops proteins that inactivate the clotting factors used to treat bleeding. Researchers are investigating treatments to dampen the immune system's response and allow continuing treatment with clotting factors.
Aug. 31, 2011