Hemophilia is a rare medical condition in which a person’s blood cannot clot properly. When someone with hemophilia sustains what would appear to be a very minor injury, such as a cut, the result is excessive internal and external bleeding that is difficult to stop. While seemingly unrelated, physical therapy can actually help people with hemophilia. Read on to learn how.
Treatment for Hemophilia
Because hemophilia is caused by a missing blood clotting factor, the most effective way to treat the condition is to replace that clotting factor to restore normal blood clotting. A treatment called clotting factor concentrate is injected into the vein, which provides what the blood needs to clot properly. This treatment can be prescribed either as a preventive measure or as a way to help a person stop bleeding during an episode. These treatments can even be provided at home, so bleeding can be stopped more quickly.
Physical Therapy for Hemophilia
Given what we know about hemophilia, it may seem surprising that physical therapy can actually help those with the disease. The key to its effectiveness may be seeking PT at the first sign of physical limitations (pain, weakness, loss of balance, lack of endurance, tightness) rather than waiting for an injury to occur. Here are some ways that physical therapy can help people with hemophilia.
- Strength training: By building muscle strength, joints are better supported and protected. Plus, stronger muscles can lower the risk of bleeding episodes.
- Exercise: Of course, exercise is always beneficial. But especially so for those with hemophilia. By targeting specific areas of weakness and improving overall fitness, exercise can help prevent future bleeds. Additionally, since those with hemophilia often suffer from stiffness and pain, exercise increases joint movement, reduces stiffness, and builds muscle–all of which contribute to less pain and a lower likelihood of bleeding episodes.
- Balance training: This can help improve posture by building core muscle strength. Better posture helps correct balance issues, which results in fewer accidents.
- Rehab: When internal bleeding occurs, damaged joints and muscles are often the result. And many times, surgery is the only way to fix that damage. Physical therapy goes a long way in helping the rehabilitation process after surgery while also working to prevent further bleeding.
Cause of Hemophilia
According to the CDC, hemophilia “is caused by a mutation or change in one of the genes that provides instructions for making the clotting factor proteins needed to form a blood clot. This change or mutation can prevent the clotting protein from working properly or to be missing altogether.” Hemophilia is an inherited condition, and those with the disease have blood with low levels of clotting factors that help stop bleeding. The lower the amount of clotting factor in the blood, the more severe hemophilia will be. And that means it’s more likely that bleeding will occur and potentially cause serious health issues.
Symptoms of Hemophilia
The symptoms of hemophilia can be distressing. These symptoms include:
- Bleeding into the skin (bruising) or muscle and soft tissue, which results in a buildup of blood in that area (also known as a hematoma).
- Bleeding into the joints, which can lead to swelling, tightness, or pain in the knees, elbows, and ankles.
- Bleeding in the mouth and gums; this is often noticed after a child loses a tooth and the gum won’t stop bleeding.
- Bleeding after a vaccination or other shot.
- Blood in stool or urine; this could also be the sign of other serious conditions, so it’s best to visit your doctor right away if you notice this.
- Nosebleeds that happen often and are difficult to stop.
Hemophilia can also lead to serious medical issues such as bleeding in the head and brain, which can result in paralysis and seizures; or bleeding in a vital organ, which can result in death. Unfortunately, there is no cure for hemophilia. But it can be treated.
Physical Therapy NOW Is Here to Help
Don’t let hemophilia prevent you from living the life you want to live. Come see us at Physical Therapy NOW, where an experienced physical therapist will talk to you about your condition, what you want to accomplish, and how you can achieve it. We’ll collaborate on a plan just for you and then get right to work in helping you feel your best and preventing further episodes or pain. Call us today at 800-481-4582 to set up your first appointment.