Knee stiffness following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: the incidence and associated factors of knee stiffness following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Knee. 2009 Aug;16(4):245-7. doi: 10.1016/j.knee.2008.12.014. Epub 2009 Jan 31.


We reviewed 100 patients retrospectively following primary ACL reconstruction with quadruple hamstring autografts to evaluate the incidence and factors associated with postoperative stiffness. Stiffness was defined as any loss of motion using the contra-lateral leg as a control. The median delay between injury and operation was 15 months. The incidence of stiffness was 12% at 6 months post-reconstruction. Both incomplete attendance at physiotherapy (p<0.005) and previous knee surgery (p<0.005) were the strongest predictors of the stiffness. Anterior knee pain was also associated with the stiffness (p<0.029). Factors that failed to show a significant association with the stiffness included associated MCL sprain at injury (p=0.32), post-injury stiffness (p=1.00) and concomitant menisectomy at reconstruction (p=0.54). Timing of surgery also did not appear to influence the onset of stiffness (median delays: 29 months for stiff patients; 14 months for non-stiff patients). The rate of stiffness fell to 5% at 12 months postreconstruction, without operative intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Knee Injuries / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Orthopedic Procedures / rehabilitation
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult