What is Arthrofibrosis of the Knee?

The knee is a complex modified hinge joint that consists of 4 bones, multiple ligaments, muscles and tendons, cartilage and soft tissue.  Its primary motions are of flexion and extension.  However, when these structures are subjected to trauma or injury, complications can occur.  Arthrofibrosis is a complication of the knee that occurs when the joint becomes stiff losing pain-free range of motion.  In the event that this condition occurs, excessive scar tissue forms within the joint and soft tissue structures.  This condition can occur in anyone in any age category following trauma or major surgical knee procedures.


Symptoms begin gradually and worsen as the knee is moved less and less due to pain following a trauma, complication of poor joint mobilization with physical therapy or non-compliance with a home exercise program following surgical management.  By utilizing the knee less, adhesions form within the joint and soft tissue.  These adhesions tighten the knee causing decreased range of motion and increased pain.  This is the first stage of the condition called the freezing stage.  The second stage or frozen stage takes place when pain can become severe, significant range of motion is lost, nighttime pain and the inabilit