Maintaining Better Joint Health – Insightful Tips for Active Haemophiliacs

It’s just as important for haemophiliacs to lead active lifestyles as it is for those unaffected by the disease. There are a number of physical activities that haemophiliacs should avoid, but that doesn't mean that they can’t engage in physical activities and sports. They can participate in physical activities recommended by their physicians or doctors ― though with adequate caution.

Jogging on the beach

Diet – Eat Well for Better Joint Health

There is a definite connection between food and joint health. Haemophiliacs who exercise regularly, therefore, have an even greater need for a good diet, one that includes plenty of 'joint friendly' foods. "We now know that certain foods can actually help ease and promote joint comfort," says Dr Theodosakis, M.D, a well-known joint health expert.

The most well-known of these foods are those high in omega-3s such as salmon, sardines, green vegetables, nuts and whole grains such as wholemeal bread and pasta. However, these are not all. Many other foods can be beneficial for one’s joints and should therefore be included in haemophiliacs' meal plans.

Foods that are naturally antioxidant rich are particularly good for joint health because they help fight free radicals that may cause joint pain. The acronym 'ACES' is used for the powerful antioxidants Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium. The list of foods that are rich in these powerful antioxidants is quite a lengthy one; so, no doubt, you will have a variety of options.

Glucosamine, a naturally occurring fluid around the joints, is usually taken in supplement form. It’s also possible to get more glucosamine in one’s diet by eating more shellfish and also by consuming bone marrow and animal bones. So the next time you barbecue chicken, munch on the ends of the drumstick to increase your glucosamine and calcium intake.

PRICE – Essential for Athletes and All Haemophiliacs

The acronym ‘PRICE’ – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – is something all haemophiliacs, whether they play sports or not, should learn and/or be taught from an early age because it’s essential for maintaining good joint health.

Haemophilia sufferers should be well acquainted with PRICE because applying the principle could help them to avoid surgical techniques – arthrodesis, arthroscopic, open and radionuclide synovectomy, orthopaedic surgery and total joint replacement – which are painful to say the least and often involve lengthy recovery times.

Here’s a quick look at PRICE.
  • Protection – This entails protecting the affected area from further injury by, for instance, wearing a bandage, brace or a sling, or walking with crutches.
  • Rest – Haemophiliacs need adequate rest to allow their body to heal itself, plus resting reduces blood flow to the affected area which may result in further damage.
  • Ice – The best form of ice to apply to an injury is a pack of crushed ice. Ice should be applied to the injury for 20 minutes at a time and reapplied every two hours for as long as necessary.
  • Compression – A compression bandage or wrap should be applied after the ice pack has been removed to serve as a barrier that helps to minimise swelling.
  • Elevation – Elevating the injured area reduces blood flow and when possible the injured area should be elevated above the heart.

Physiotherapy – Every Active Haemophiliac Should Know a Physiotherapist

It’s a widely held belief that everyone who suffers from haemophilia should know a physiotherapist and pay them a visit on a regular basis. However, if you exercise and engage in sports, the need to have a relationship with a physiotherapist becomes even more essential.

Physiotherapy plays a major role in maintaining good joint health. Your physiotherapist can provide you with exercises that you may perform to keep your joints limber, in good health and at less risk of suffering joint bleeds.

Moreover, whenever you injure yourself or experience joint discomfort it’s important to pay your physiotherapist a visit to seek treatment.

Choose Low-Impact over High-Impact Sports

No doubt, low-impact sports usually aren't half the fun of high-impact sports, but they're much gentler and kinder on one's joints.

Most high-impact sports, notably boxing, rugby and hockey, aren't suitable for people with haemophilia, although some high-impact sports, like athletics and football, are OK. However, it is recommended that athletes should exercise caution and cease playing the moment they notice discomfort in their joints.

Low-impact sports, such as cycling, swimming and walking, are much easier on one's joints and are therefore preferable for people who suffer from haemophilia. However, whether you prefer low-impact or high-impact physical activities, it’s important to understand PRICE and cease exercising the moment you notice any discomfort in your joints because this could result in an internal bleed.

Maintaining good joint health as someone who suffers from haemophilia is extremely important if you’re to lead a relatively normal life and avoid the need for surgical procedures as a result of suffering a joint injury.

Image credit: naama, license Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Flickr

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