Torn Meniscus

What is rehabilitation and recovery like for a patient with a meniscus tear?

If a conservative, nonsurgical approach is taken, the pain and swelling of a torn meniscus should resolve within a few days. Recovery and rehabilitation becomes a long-term commitment, as does making certain that the muscles surrounding the knee are kept strong to promote joint stability, maintaining an ideal body weight, and avoiding activities that cause pain.

If knee arthroscopy is performed, the rehabilitation process balances swelling and healing. The goal is to return range of motion to the knee as soon as possible. Physical therapy is an important part of the surgery process, and most therapists work with the orthopedic surgeon to return the patient to full function as soon as possible. Since the procedure is planned in advance, some health-care professionals advocate pre-hab. With rehabilitation prior to the procedure, the patient begins strengthening exercises for the quadriceps and hamstring muscles before surgery to prevent the routine muscle weakness that may occur immediately after an operation.

Once the swelling in the knee joint resolves, the goal of therapy is to increase the strength of the muscles surrounding the knee, return range of motion to normal, and promote and preserve stability of the joint.

Elite athletes return to practice within one to two weeks after surgery, but they are a motivated group of people who spend hours each day in rehabilitation. For most other patients, return to mild routine activity occurs in less than six weeks.

Most patients do well after surgery. The prognosis for return to normal activity is good but depends upon the motivation of the patient to work hard with their physical therapist and to continue that work after formal therapy has been completed.

What are recommended exercises once a torn meniscus has been repaired?

Rehabilitation after an operation depends upon the individual patient and the response to surgery. Specific recommendations regarding weight-bearing and exercises will be customized for the patient by the surgeon and therapist.

Usually the goal is to return the knee to normal function within four to six weeks.

Reviewed on 6/13/2014

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!