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How do you know if you have knee scar tissue and what can you do about it?

 Knee Scar
3 minutes, 24 seconds

Scar tissue is your body’s natural response to trauma, and it gradually forms after the healing of a wound. However, built-up scar tissue can significantly impact your daily life and mobility, tightening and pulling on your surrounding skin and joints. This can restrict your movement and make daily activities difficult and uncomfortable. 

Your knee capsule can become tight with scar tissue if:

How do I know if I have scar tissue in my knee? 

Scar tissue refers to thick, fibrous tissue that replaces previous tissue after it is damaged. Healthy tissue may be destroyed from a cut, significant injury or surgery. Arthrofibrosis, also called stiff knee syndrome, occurs when too much scar tissue develops around the knee and leads to chronic tightness.

If you’re unsure that you have knee scar tissue, it can be helpful to know the telltale signs. Internal scar tissue occurs on the inside of the body and can take a long time to recover from. This is because collagen buildup can be thick and difficult to work with. Abnormal scar tissue can also continue to grow over time without treatment and possibly warrant scar tissue removal surgery

Scar tissue can surround your knee and impair your ability to move and function as normal.You may experience the following symptoms if you have knee scar tissue:

  • Discoloration, like redness, around your knee. 
  • Throbbing around your knee.
  • Sensitivity around the joint.
  • Stiffness.
  • Difficulty moving your knee up and down. 

Scar tissue in your knee can be especially painful since your knee moves frequently, whenever you walk or move your legs up and down. With each movement, your scar tissue pulls on your ligaments and tendons and causes intense pain. 

In the early stages, scar tissue isn’t always painful. This is because nerves in the area may have been destroyed. Over time, however, scar tissue may become painful as your nerve endings regenerate. 

Thankfully, physical therapists can use techniques that break up capsule swelling and inflammation buildup.

How can physical therapists help treat knee scar tissue? 


A study found that physical management of scar tissue is effective in easing pain and stiffness. Physical therapists can use the following techniques to address your scar tissue pain:

  1. Dry needlingDry needling is an effective way to minimize scar tissue symptoms. During a dry needling session, thin, sterile needles are gently placed within your scar tissue and myofascial trigger points. Doing so encourages circulation and releases built-up tension around your knee.
  2. Soft tissue mobilization — Soft tissue mobilization techniques stretch and push your scar tissue in different positions to break up tightness. Physical therapists often use special instruments to assist in rubbing down your scar tissue. The Graston Technique® is a soft tissue treatment method that is known to break up scars.
  3. Myofascial release — Myofascial release refers to the manipulation of the fascia, or tissue just below the skin. Physical therapists use this technique to target scar tissue and loosen tension in specific areas using specific trigger points.
  4. Stretches — Gentle and purposeful stretching of your knee can improve flexibility and mobility. Your physical therapist can introduce you to stretches that target scar tissue in your knee and improve circulation to the area.
  5. Joint mobilization — Scar tissue that’s near a joint like your knee can significantly limit your mobility. Joint mobilization exercises can help break up scar tissue over time and increase your range of motion.
  6. Aquatic therapy — Aquatic therapy can be a great opportunity for you to exercise your injured knee in a low-impact environment. The water also offers light compression, which can help control your inflammation while moving. 

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for knee scar tissue

Are you ready to find expert solutions for the scar tissue in your knee? At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your scar tissue. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find a physical therapist who can help treat your troublesome knee.

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