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When Can I Return to My Sport Following Meniscus Surgery?

When Can I Return to My Sport Following Meniscus Surgery?

Your meniscus is a powerful piece of cartilage in your knee, playing a vital role in your movement and stability. However, when this powerhouse takes a hit, it can bring even the most spirited athletes to their knees. 

Here at Ortho 1 Medical Group in sunny San Diego, La Jolla, Chula Vista, and Coronado, California, board-certified orthopedic surgeons understand the struggle and frustration that comes with injury and recovery — especially for active athletes. 

Our goal is to help you navigate this challenging journey, from diagnosis to treatment to rehab and returning to your beloved sport. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about the road to recovery after meniscus surgery.

About meniscus injuries 

The meniscus is a cartilage piece in your knee that cushions and stabilizes the joint. It helps your knee bear weight, turn, and rotate. However, it's prone to injuries, especially during sports that involve plenty of contact or quick, sudden twists.

Common symptoms of meniscus injuries include:

In case of severe meniscus tears, a piece of the shredded meniscus can move into the joint space. This can make your knee feel stuck, almost like it's locked in place.

Unfortunately, meniscal injuries often have difficulty healing. Researchers believe this is because only a fraction (about one-third) of this cartilage receives blood.

Doctors refer to this blood-rich area as “the red zone.” The remaining two-thirds of the meniscus doesn’t have a good blood supply, earning it the nickname “the white zone” and making this cartilage a challenge to repair. 

If you suspect a meniscus injury, don’t wait to get medical attention. Most meniscus injuries don’t heal without medical intervention, and without it you might experience serious complications that can significantly impact your mobility down the line. 

About meniscus surgery

Meniscus injuries are often addressed with one of two surgical procedures: meniscus repair or meniscectomy. Here’s a closer look:

Meniscus repair

A meniscus repair, usually done through knee arthroscopy, is a surgery to fix the damaged meniscus. This method is often chosen when the tear is on the outer edge of the meniscus, where the blood supply is rich, allowing for better healing.


Meniscectomy, on the other hand, is when your Ortho 1 Medical Group surgeon removes the torn section of your meniscus. This is usually done when the tear is in the inner two-thirds of the meniscus, an area that doesn't have a good blood supply.

Returning to sports

If you’re facing meniscus surgery, chances are you’re wondering when you can lace up and get back in the game. The truth is, recovery times vary depending on multiple factors, including the type of meniscus surgery you have, your general health, and your body's healing speed.

Generally speaking, after meniscus repair, you can expect to return to sports after about four to six months. Since this procedure involves suturing the torn edges together, it requires more time for the meniscus to heal fully before you can go back to your normal activities.

On the other hand, if you had a meniscectomy, you might be back in the game as soon as six weeks to three months post-surgery. This faster timeline is due to the less invasive nature of the procedure.

Your rehab will likely include a customized physical therapy plan to strengthen your knee and improve flexibility. By following this plan diligently, you can play a significant role in speeding up your recovery.

Keep in mind that these are just average timelines. The golden rule is to adhere to your Ortho 1 Medical Group surgeon's advice and the signs your body gives you as you recover. 

It's crucial not to rush the process. Pushing through pain or ignoring your doctor's instructions might prolong your recovery or even cause further damage.

Experiencing a meniscus injury is always challenging, especially when you're itching to return to your favorite sport. At Ortho 1 Medical Group, we understand your desire to get back on the field, and we're here to guide you through your recovery. 

Our providers are dedicated to providing personalized meniscus treatment plans that factor in your unique needs, ensuring a safe and effective return to your favorite sport. For more information, schedule an appointment online or over the phone today at Ortho 1 Medical Group.

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