Motion loss after ACL reconstruction surgery occurs in less than 1% of cases. Proper surgical technique, timing, and rehabilitation helps reduce the risk of motion loss. However, joint stiffness (arthrofibrosis) is not entirely preventable. Arthrofibrosis is a condition of the knee that causes pain, limited range of motion, and decreased function due to scar tissue and muscle contractures following a surgery or traumatic injury.
The first step in tackling arthrofibrosis is aggressive rehab. Should this fail, it is necessary to perform a surgery to remove the scar tissue and to attempt to get the patient’s range of motion back to normal. Your physician must first determine the cause of arthrofibrosis, in order to plan a proper ACL revision for severe joint stiffness to lower the risk of continued motion loss. Sometimes the surgery is as simple as removing scar tissue. At other times, in severe cases, it is necessary to remove a poorly placed ACL graft, or a graft that was secured too tightly, thus, limiting the patient’s range of motion. In some cases requiring graft removal to regain range of motion, it is necessary to perform a second surgery, later, to replace the graft.
After arthrofibrosis surgery, rehabilitation is extremely important. Completing the protocol as directed by your physician is crucial to regaining mobility.