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Hemarthrosis - What You Need to Know

Hemarthrosis Can Cause Pain and Swelling in a Single Joint


Updated June 18, 2014

What Is Hemarthrosis?

Hemarthrosis is the medical term for bleeding in a joint. Hemarthrosis is a common cause of monoarticular joint pain (pain in a single joint) and joint swelling.

How Is Hemarthrosis Diagnosed?

While your medical history, physical examination and imaging studies can be helpful in formulating the diagnosis of hemarthrosis -- it's a joint aspiration (arthrocentesis) that can offer a definitive diagnosis.

Joint fluid that is associated with hemarthrosis is typically reddish, pinkish or brownish. Other abnormal characteristics of the joint fluid may suggest the cause of hemarthrosis.

What Can Cause Hemarthrosis?

There is a wide array of conditions that can cause hemarthrosis including:

  • trauma
  • bleeding disorders
  • neurological disorders
  • neoplasms (tumors)
  • vascular damage
  • osteoarthritis

Can Hemarthrosis Be Successfully Treated?

Treatment for hemarthrosis depends on the cause. For osteoarthritis, some patients have reportedly experienced recurrent hemarthrosis after knee arthroplasty, while others report spontaneous hemarthrosis in the knee.

Synovectomy (removal of joint lining), meniscectomy and osteotomy have been used with success when treating hemarthrosis. Another technique, known as ablation, provides debridement limited to the diseased tissue. If this happens to you, your doctor will make an appropriate assessment and offer treatment recommendations.


Hemarthrosis. UpToDate. Peter A. Nigrovic, MD. May 31, 2008.

Spontaneous Hemarthrosis in Osteoarthritis of the Knee Treated by Arthroscopic Ablation: a Case Report. Journal of the Chugoku-Shikoku Orthopaedic Association (2005). Accessed October 13,2008.

Recurrent hemarthrosis after knee joint arthroplasty: Etiology and treatment. The Journal of Arthroplasty (2004).

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