Arthrofibrosis Nightmares: Prevention and Management Strategies

Dustin R. Lee, Erik Therrien, Bryant M. Song, Christopher L. Camp, Aaron J. Krych, Michael J. Stuart, Matthew P. Abdel, Bruce A. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Arthrofibrosis (AF) is an exaggerated immune response to a proinflammatory insult leading to pathologic periarticular fibrosis and symptomatic joint stiffness. The knee, elbow, and shoulder are particularly susceptible to AF, often in the setting of trauma, surgery, or adhesive capsulitis. Prevention through early physiotherapeutic interventions and anti-inflammatory medications remain fundamental to avoiding motion loss. Reliable nonoperative modalities exist and outcomes are improved when etiology, joint involved, and level of dysfunction are considered in the clinical decision making process. Surgical procedures should be reserved for cases recalcitrant to nonoperative measures. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the current understanding of AF pathophysiology, identify common risk factors, describe prevention strategies, and outline both nonoperative and surgical treatment options. This manuscript will focus specifically on sterile AF of the knee, elbow, and shoulder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalSports medicine and arthroscopy review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Arthrofibrosis prevention/treatment
  • Elbow
  • Knee
  • Lyses of adhesions
  • Manipulation under anesthesia
  • Shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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