Life After Meniscal Repair

A meniscal repair is where the torn meniscus is repaired by a surgeon, most notably with sutures. The menisci (plural), in simple terms, are the shallow dish shaped cartilaginous structures atop the tibial plafond (top of the ‘shin bone’). They distribute forces within the knee, provide stability, and protect the joint edges.If you have a meniscal repair, then generally speaking, your rehab will be significantly slower than a meniscectomy (where the meniscus is cut back / resected but not repaired).

The pace of your rehab will also be dictated by:

– The size of the tear

– The location of the tear (some areas are better vascularised)

– The quality of the suture

– The general condition of the knee

– Your age and general health

– Your lower limb strength

– Other injuries e.g ACL tear

“Patients are warned that an early return to strenuous activities, including impact loading, jogging, deep knee flexion, or pivoting, carries a definite risk of a repeat meniscus tear… This is particularly true in the first 4 to 6 months postoperatively, where full flexion or deep-squatting activities may disrupt the healing repair sites…” (Heckman et, al 2006, page 801).

If you partake in activities that may increase the risk of a re-tear, such as football, martial arts or surfing, then your physio and surgeon will counsel you on your progress, readiness and risk profile for returning to these activities.

Working closely with your physio and surgeon, gradually maximising strength in the gym and taking it one week at a time will help you to get back into life, with an understanding of how to reduce the risk of a re-tear / injury.

Be patient following this procedure, as when you feel better, your repaired meniscus may still be healing for a few more months.

Reference: Heckmann, Barber-Westin, Noyes; J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 36(10), 2006

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