Open Access

A multi-country snapshot study of pain in people with haemophilia



People with haemophilia (PwH) experience recurrent bleeds in weight-bearing joints. Optimal management for people with severe haemophilia involves prophylaxis with factor VIII or IX, which helps to reduce the risk of bleeds and joint damage. However, this is expensive and frequently not an option in economically developing countries, where on-demand treatment is more commonly used as bleeding occurs. PwH with moderate and mild haemophilia are also treated on demand. Pain from bleeds and arthropathy is common in PwH; it is recognised as a burden that impairs quality of life and can be challenging to manage.


This study aims to establish greater understanding of the experience of pain in PwH in different countries, the factors that influence this, and how pain is currently managed.


PwH attending haemophilia treatment centres (HTCs) completed an anonymous questionnaire about their experience of pain and pain-relief within the previous 28 days (up to 10 PwH per participating HTC).


209 PwH from 20 HTCs in 11 countries participated in the study. The median age was 36 (range 8–84); 181 (86.6%) had haemophilia A, 25 (12.0%) haemophilia B, and three (1.4%) did not know; 148 (70.8%) had severe haemophilia, 28 (13.4%) moderate, and 31 (14.8%) mild. Twenty-eight (13.4%) had an inhibitor. The majority (n=121; 57.9%) were on prophylaxis; 61 (29.2%) were treated on demand; 20 (9.6%) used a combination; 7 (3.3%) did not know. 154 PwH (73.9%) experienced a total of 1,945 days of pain with severity on a visual analogue scale reported as 4.5. The most commonly reported sites of pain were joints and muscles. There was no significant difference in pain incidence between countries. Children aged less than 16 years reported the lowest amount of pain, with reported pain increasing with age in older respondents. Simple analgesia such as paracetamol was used but participants reported that it did not relieve pain. Alternative pain-relief strategies including rest, physiotherapy, walking aids, alcohol or marijuana were also used with varying effect.


Pain is common among PwH and increases with age. Age and developmentally appropriate pain assessment should be a part of routine haemophilia care.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Basic Medical Science, other, Clinical Medicine, Pharmacy, Pharmacology