Acupuncture/ pressureBleeding Disorders

Should acupuncture be used in people with hemophilia?

Hemophilia refers to bleeding disorders in which it takes a long time for the blood to clot. Patients suffer from acute pain due to bleeding into a joint and chronic arthritic pain from repeated bleeding episodes.

During the Hemophilia 2010 World Congress, researchers from the Henry Ford Health System, in Detroit, Michigan, reported their results.

First, the details.

  • 9 adults with hemophilia, chronic pain, and a diagnosis of severe hemarthrosis (bleeding into joints) were treated with acupuncture at 20 sites, including specific points in the knee, ankle, lower back, and elbow for patients experiencing pain in those areas.
  • Treatment involved 2 sessions a week for 4 weeks, followed by 6 weekly sessions.
  • Quality-of-life was evaluated using the Short Form (SF-36) questionnaire.

And, the results.

  • Patients reported improvement in physical functioning, emotional problems, mental health, pain relief, and positive changes in health.
  • No bleeding episodes were reported after treatment.

The bottom line?

The researchers concluded, “As an alternative therapy, acupuncture may provide some benefit to chronic pain patients with hemophilia in a multimodal [combined treatment] approach.”

It’s a small study, but there’s little information on the use of acupuncture in hemophilia.

In 2006, researchers at Bonn/St Bernhard-Hospital, in Kamp-Lintfort, Germany, reported improvement in pain among 10 of 12 patients, which was superior to no treatment.

An earlier report of 1 patient’s experience at Weston Park Hospital, in Sheffield, England found that “acupuncture may have something to offer this type of patient in terms of pain management and reduction of strong analgesics.”

However, these authors cautioned, “Treatment should be performed only by practitioners with special training in acupuncture; and close co-operation with a hemophilia clinic is necessary.”

A PubMed search failed to reveal anything new.

7/15/10 18:34 JR; updated 1/14/11 22:12 JR.

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.