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Treatment, Return to Play, and Performance Following Meniscus Surgery

  • Sports Injuries and Rehabilitation: Getting Athletes Back to Play (R Gallo, Section Editor)
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A Correction to this article was published on 26 July 2022

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Purpose of Review

The standard of care in meniscal tear management is constantly evolving, especially for athletes and high-demand patients. Meniscus repairs, meniscus transplants, and partial meniscectomies are commonly performed, and rehabilitation methods following these operations are becoming more sophisticated. The ultimate goal of these procedures is returning patients to full activity with minimal risks. Return to play should be systematic, pathology dependent, and individualized to an athlete’s needs, expectations, and level of play. This article provides a review of the current treatment modalities of meniscus tears, the rehabilitation protocols following each modality, and the return to play criteria that must be met before releasing the player to competition. In addition, it overviews articles that describe performance outcomes of patients that have undergone meniscus surgery.

Recent Findings

Current research shows high return to play rates for athletes that undergo meniscus surgery and describes effective rehabilitation protocols to facilitate recovery. There is an increased emphasis on meniscus preservation in recent literature. In addition, meniscus allograft transplantation has demonstrated its efficacy as a salvage procedure and has become a stronger consideration in the athlete with meniscus pathology.


No standardized return to play protocol can be applied uniformly to all kinds of meniscal surgeries, and two athletes with the same pathology cannot be expected to follow identical paths towards full recovery. A multidisciplinary approach to care should be provided to the patients, and in the case of patients with high levels of athleticism, the road to recovery starts even before the injury itself.

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Special acknowledgment to Joshua G. Nelson, Ed.D., SCCC, CSCS, USAW, from Penn State University for his input (email:

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Hanna, T., Smith, N.P. & Sebastianelli, W.J. Treatment, Return to Play, and Performance Following Meniscus Surgery. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 15, 157–169 (2022).

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