What Is Leaky Joint Syndrome? Understand The Symptoms And Treatments

Leaky joint syndrome, also known as hemarthrosis, is an ailment where bleeding happens in one of the joints. It is also referred to as articular bleeding. Joints are the place where bones meet in the body. Synovial joints help us move.

The synovial joints are lined with synovial membranes; it is a thin barrier that covers the space where the bones come together. The synovial membrane protects the joints they surround. Synovial membranes function to protect the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.

They reduce friction between the bones. Especially while moving or when there is a sudden jerk the synovial membrane protects the joints.

What Is Hemarthrosis?

Hemarthrosis is a condition where bleeding occurs inside one of the joints. Hemarthrosis happens when something leads to bleeding that leaks in the synovial membrane or the cavity inside one of your joints. It causes swelling and makes it difficult to use the joint.

Leaky Joint Syndrome

Hemarthrosis can develop in any synovial joint of the body, but it mostly affects the following parts:

  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Elbows
  • shoulders

injuries, health conditions cause hemarthrosis, or as a side effect of some medication, and at times, after joint surgeries. The cure for hemarthrosis lies in curing the cause of bleeding. The healthcare provider will also work to cure the symptoms of the disease. Depending on the severity and cause of the ailment it takes a few weeks to get cured. 

Acute hemarthrosis is caused by bleeding in a joint, which is temporary and is caused by an injury or short-term illness. In case of a bleeding disorder that results in hemarthrosis and makes it a recurring phenomenon, then it is termed chronic hemarthrosis. It is time to consult a specialist if there is swelling around any of the joints, and it is getting difficult to move.

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Whom Does Hemarthrosis Affect?

Hemarthrosis can affect anyone irrespective of gender. If you encompass a trauma that affected any of the synovial joints then it could result in hemarthrosis or leaky joint syndrome. Some health conditions that lead to leaky joint syndrome are as follows:

  • Vitamin K  deficiency
  • Hemophilia
  • Arthritis of the knee
  • Some types of cancer
  • Liver disease

Is Hemarthrosis A Common Ailment?

As many issues and conditions cause hemarthrosis, it is very difficult to analyze how common it is. Most people with hemophilia will face hemarthrosis at some point. ACL tears and other damage to the knee ligaments mostly cause hemarthrosis in the knee.  

Symptoms And Causes Of Leaky Joint Syndrome


The most common symptoms of hemarthrosis are as follows:

  • Swelling and inflammation around any of the joints. 
  • Pain
  • Bruising or discoloration around the joints.
  • Trouble in moving
  • Warm feeling around the joints


The most common causes that result in hemarthrosis are as follows:

  • Bleeding disorder
  • Trauma like falls car accidents or sports injuries
  • Blood thinner side effects
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • infections

Hemarthrosis is also caused after joint surgery, including, the following:

  • Knee osteotomy
  • Arthroplasty or joint replacement
  • Arthroscopy
  • Partial knee replacement

How Is Hemarthrosis Diagnosed?

A specialist will diagnose hemarthrosis after physical examination and imaging tests. The doctor will examine the affected joint and enquire about the symptoms. The doctor will check the range of motion and the discomfort felt as compared to other joints. For example, in the case of the shoulder, how the affected shoulder rotates as compared to the other shoulder. At times blood tests are also conducted to check for any possibility of infection. Some imaging tests are also required like:

  • X-rays
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • CT (computer tomography) scan
  • Ultrasound

The doctor may ask to perform joint aspiration. Here, some of the excess fluid from the affected area was sent for testing. Diagnosing hemarthrosis is a part of differential diagnosis, as the list of conditions that share the symptoms takes the final call. Several issues can result in swelling, so before concluding it as hemarthrosis, the tests are concluded. 

Both leaky joint syndrome and joint effusion cause swelling around the joints making movement difficult. Joint effusion causes extra fluids to flood the tissues around the joint. Infections, injuries, or overuse cause it. The fluid may contain blood but then it is not caused by bleeding. 

How To Treat Hemarthrosis?

The doctor will treat the cause of the bleeding and the symptoms that arise due to hemarthrosis. If the bleeding is stopped between the joints, it will cure hemarthrosis, and the symptoms will also not get worse. The course of treatment will depend on the cause of the ailment. The doctor may resort to blood transfusion. 

How To Manage Leaky Joint Syndrome?

Leaky joint syndrome is painful and restricts easy movement. Mostly, the doctor’s RICE method will help while the doctor is giving the required treatment. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. 

Rest: rest is not putting any pressure or weight on the affected joint.

Ice: using cold compression or cold gel packs on the affected area for twenty minutes a day can help with the pain.

Compression: using elastic bandage around the affected area can help with extra support to the affected area.

Elevation: placing the affected area at an elevated position higher than the heart level can help deal with symptoms.

There are certain over-the-counter painkillers available that can ease the pain. Medicines like aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help to ease the pain. There are no methods or ways that can prevent health conditions.

Injury cannot be avoided but then some ways can help manage the condition. In some cases, it takes longer to recover, but then, in some cases, it gets cured easily. The reason that led to leaky joints will determine the recovery period.

For example, if hemarthrosis is caused due to bone fracture, then it will take longer to get cured. The doctor will guide us about how to deal with the pain and when we can resume normal activities. If there is any swelling or pain, consult the doctor as a delay in treatment will further worsen the situation. 

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In managing leaky joint syndrome, a combination of medical intervention and self-care measures can significantly improve the overall outcome. While complete prevention may not always be possible, timely treatment and adherence to healthcare recommendations can contribute to a more efficient recovery process.

Individuals experiencing symptoms such as swelling or pain should consult a healthcare provider promptly to initiate appropriate interventions and prevent further complications.

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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