Meniscus Tear Surgery Recovery Timeline

Guide to Torn Meniscus Recovery - Baptist Blog

So you zigged when you should have zagged, and now you’re dealing with a torn meniscus. You’re not alone. A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries and only the most severe cases require surgery.

What’s a Meniscus?

Our knee has two menisci. These c-shaped rubbery cartilage provide a cushion between the femur and the tibia. Sudden, or acute, meniscus injuries can be caused by a sudden change of direction or the knee otherwise twisting while the foot is firmly planted. As we age, a degenerative meniscus tear occurs gradually, with the meniscus losing resiliency, breaking off and leaving frayed edges.

Meniscus tears are categorized into three grades. Torn meniscus recovery timelines often depend on the grade. Grade 1 and 2 tears include small or partial meniscus tears and aren’t considered serious. A grade 3 tear will typically require arthroscopic surgery.

Non-Surgical Torn Meniscus Treatment Recovery Timeline

In nonsurgical cases — small or partial tears — pain and swelling should subside within a few days, with recovery taking up to six weeks. Typical recovery milestones include:

Week 1

  • Use crutches to avoid bearing more than half the bodyweight on the injured leg
  • Achieve up to 90% passive range of motion

Week 2

  • Eliminate swelling
  • Achieve a full range of motion

Week 3

  • Ensure the full range of motion
  • Regain full strength and ability to perform full squat
  • Return to normal exercise or level of activity

Weeks 4-5

  • Achieve full duration of normal exercise or activity

Meniscus Surgery: Recovery Timeline

Meniscus recovery timelines for grade 3 tears and other surgical repairs can be as long as four months.

Week 1

  • Use crutches to avoid bearing more than half the bodyweight on the surgical leg
  • Use a hinged knee brace
  • Achieve up to 70% passive range of motion

Week 2-4

  • Continue use of crutches, hinged knee brace and bearing less than half the body weight
  • Achieve up to 90% passive range of motion

Weeks 4-6

  • Gradually decrease dependence on brace and crutches
  • Use stationary bike at low pace and resistance
  • Achieve up to 120% passive range of motion

Weeks 6-8

  • Walk without noticeable limp
  • Achieve up to 135% passive range of motion

Weeks 8-12

  • Add lateral training exercises with no resistance
  • Achieve a full range of motion

Weeks 12-16

  • Introduce resistance to lateral training
  • Resume normal low-impact activities

Post-Meniscus Surgery Recovery – Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy

A knee cast or brace may be applied to limit post-surgical movement. After meniscus repair, patients must use crutches for about a month to keep weight off the knee.

After a healing period, the physician will prescribe rehabilitation exercises to restore knee mobility and strength. Some patients need intense physical therapy, while others can perform much of this rehabilitation at home. Rehabilitation time for a meniscus repair is about three months, while a meniscectomy requires approximately three to four weeks.

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Learn More About Meniscus Tear Treatment From Baptist Health

Acute meniscus tears will rarely leave any doubt that you need immediate medical attention. Follow the advice of your primary care provider, surgeon, and physical therapy team to get you and your knee back on the straight and narrow. Want to learn more? Read more about meniscus tears.

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