The surgeon may manipulate the knee to break up scar tissue while the patient is under anesthesia or sedation. He may use arthroscopic surgery to take out the tissue, and he may perform open surgery. The treatment depends on the buildup, as stated by Healthline.
The name for scar tissue buildup in the knee is arthrofibrosis, or "stiff knee syndrome," and it happens sometimes in joints that have recently gone through surgery. As scar tissue develops, the knee joint tightens and shrinks. The result is severely limited range of motion and an inability to bend and straighten the knee. The longer the surgery takes, and the longer the joint remains immobilized, the higher the risk of scar tissue buildup. This is why surgeons often prescribe use of a CPM machine to maintain mobility while the patient is recovering in bed from surgery, according to Healthline.
Signs of arthrofibrosis include an ongoing swelling in all of the soft tissue around the knee. While fluid also causes swelling, doctors can differentiate between fluid from swelling and fluid from scar tissue buildup. Walking with a flexed knee instead of straightening legs with each step shows a limited range of motion attributable to scar tissue. When pain keeps getting worse after surgery instead of better, arthrofibrosis may be the culprit, particularly if flexibility declines as well. A feeling of heat around the knee after a couple weeks after the surgery can also indicate scar tissue buildup. It is important to seek medical attention after any of these symptoms, notes Healthline.