Arthrofibrosis of the Knee

Arthrofibrosis in Vail, Colorado

If you have had an injury, recent surgery, or struggle with osteoarthritis, you may have a chance to develop arthrofibrosis in the knee. This condition can be limiting and obstruct your knee’s full capabilities.


Arthrofibrosis of the knee refers to a condition where the knee motion is restricted due to scar tissue under the kneecap (patella) and the shinbone (tibia). It could occur from contractures after injury or surgery, or from the effects of osteoarthritis over time. Ultimately, arthrofibrosis can lead to a debilitating range of motion, inhibit muscle activity, and decrease proper patient function.


Common symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness of the knee
  • Inability to straighten or flex knee
  • Difficulty sitting in a chair with bent knees
  • Limping or weakness of the knee
  • Treatments

    During an evaluation with Dr. Hackett, he will require a full medical history and physical examination. It is important for him to determine why the patient developed arthrofibrosis based on stiffness, associated injuries, and previous operations. He may also order X-rays to determine the severity of the arthrofibrosis and look for osteoarthritis, joint space, and bone spurs. Depending on your evaluation, Dr. Hackett will provide recommendations that will best treat your arthrofibrosis symptoms.

    Non-Surgical Treatments

    Some patients who are developing arthrofibrosis in the early stages may benefit from appropriately designed physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and anti-inflammatory medicine. These steps can be effective in relieving symptoms associated with arthrofibrosis. However, it is still possible to develop more severe arthrofibrosis over time.

    Surgical Treatments

    When conservative measures are unable to correct this condition, or if the condition is severe, Dr. Hackett generally recommends surgery to improve the function of the knee. Dr. Hackett utilizes an arthroscopic procedure, or minimally invasive, to remove scar tissue that obstructs the motion and strength of the knee. The specialized arthroscopic surgery performed to correct arthrofibrosis is a Lysis of Adhesions (LOA) procedure, such as anterior interval release for the knee. Arthroscopic surgeries are a newer, less invasive technique that provides a quicker recovery time and less pain for the patient.

    Physical Therapy

    In the case of treatment, a rehabilitation program is necessary to restore the knee’s full function. Putting weight on the knee may be delayed for a few days to ensure correct healing, which controls swelling, pain, and joint irritation. Physical therapy will focus on maintaining joint mobility while also avoiding reformation of scar tissue. Rehabilitation may take several months after surgery to regain strength and motion in the knee. This program is aggressive and frequent but has relatively positive results. It is critical to follow specific aftercare instructions to have a proper recovery and return to your activities safely.