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Meniscus transplant rehab protocol

  • Partial weight bearing for 4 weeks. Initiate at 10-20% for weeks 1-2, then progress up to 50% for weeks 3-4. Walk with crutches and a brace locked in extension. Consider a heel lift in opposite shoe to normalize gait.
  • Surgical knee will be in a hinged rehab brace locked in FULL EXTENSION for 4 weeks post-op.
  • Regular assessment of gait to avoid compensatory patterns.
  • Regular manual mobilizations to surgical wounds and associated soft tissue to decrease the incidence of fibrosis.
  • No direct palpation to surgical portals x 4 weeks. Consider the edge of the bandages as the “no touch zone” (approximately 2 inches in all directions). See wound care protocol for full details.
  • No resisted leg extension machines (isotonic or isokinetic).
  • No high impact or cutting / twisting activities for at least 6 months post-op.
  • No resisted lateral movement for 12 weeks.
  • M.D./nurse follow-up visits at Day 2, Day 14, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year post-op.
  • During the first 4 weeks: TWICE PER DAY: Without brace, allow GRAVITY ONLY (passive only) to bend knee back as tolerated BUT NO MORE THAN 90 DEGREES for a good knee stretch without increase in pain. Relax knee and stretch for 60 seconds.

Week 1

  • Nurse visit day 2 post-op to change dressing and review home program.
  • Ice and elevation every 2 hours for 15-20 min each session.


  • Soft tissue treatments for edema / pain control and to posterior musculature, ITB, add, quad, calf. No direct palpation of surgical portals x 4 weeks.


  • Straight leg raise exercises (lying, seated, and standing), quadriceps/adduction/ gluteal sets, ankle pumps.
  • Well-leg stationary cycling, upper body ergometer for cardio. Add upper body and core conditioning.
  • Daily edge of bed dangle for passive knee flexion (allow knee to hang in pain-free range with light stretch).


  • Decrease pain/edema.
  • Passive range of motion <90 degrees to avoid pulling on sutures.
  • Gait-partial weight bearing with brace locked in extension.

Weeks 2 - 4

  • Nurse visit at day 14 for suture removal and check-up.


  • Continue with soft tissue treatment for edema/pain, posterior musculature, iliotibial band, adductor, quadriceps, calf.


  • Continue with previous, manual resisted exercises (i.e. PNF patterns) of the foot, ankle and hip. Trunk stabilization program, three limb plank. Single leg balance and proprioceptive exercises.
  • Aerobic exercises (i.e. unilateral cycling, upper body ergometer, Schwinn Air-Dyne with uninvolved leg and arms only, well body bike, single leg row machine).


  • Decrease pain/edema.
  • Passive range of motion 0-90 degrees.
  • Gait- partial weight bearing with brace locked in extension.

Weeks 4 - 6

  • M.D. visit at 4 weeks post-op, will wean off the use of rehab brace.


  • Stretching, exercises and manual treatments to improve range of motion (especially flexion). Initiate surgical portal scar mobilization if portals are completely closed.


  • Incorporate functional exercises (i.e. partial squats, calf raises, mini-step-ups, proprioception).
  • Stationary bike low cadence, low resistance.
  • Slow walking on treadmill for gait training (preferably a low-impact treadmill).


  • Gait- unlock brace; wean off brace- increased gait mechanics.
  • Active range of motion 0-115 degrees.

Weeks 6 - 8


  • Continue as needed for ROM, decrease pain, muscle guarding.


  • Increase the intensity of functional exercises (i.e. cautiously increase depth of closed-chain exercises., Shuttle/leg press). Do not overload closed or open-chain exercises.


  • Gait- no limp present, good mechanics.
  • Active range of motion 0-<120 degrees.
  • Tolerate 90/90 squat.

Weeks 8 - 12


  • Continue with soft tissue, joint mobilizations as needed.


  • Add lateral training exercises (side-step ups, lateral stepping).
  • Introduce more progressive closed chain and agility leg exercises.
  • Patients should be pursuing a home program with emphasis on sport/activity-specific training.
  • Consider road cycling in saddle.


  • Active Range of Motion approx 120 degrees flexion (do NOT force flexion >120 degrees as per MD).
  • Initiate lateral training with no resistance.

Weeks 12 - 16

  • Complete 3 month sports test and initiate return to running program.
  • Increase intensity of low-impact cardio including bike, swimming, elliptical, etc.
  • Increase the intensity of strength and functional training for gradual return to activities.
  • Initiate resisted lateral training (theraband resisted side-stepping).


  • Complete and pass Sports Test.
  • No high impact activities for 1 year unless cleared by MD.

NOTE: All progressions are approximations and should be used as a guideline only. Progression will be based on individual patient presentation, which is assessed throughout the treatment process.

alternative to a knee replacement-avoid-a-knee-replacement-bioknee
We like to do everything possible to rebuild the knee joint with biologic tissues rather than artificial materials to help delay the time in which an artificial joint replacement is necessary.
Pot. Almost 50% of the patients in my practice recently used marijuana to reduce their post-op pain. I didn’t prescribe it; the word just seems to be out.
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Kevin R. Stone · Jonathan R. Pelsis · Scott T. Surrette · Ann W. Walgenbach · Thomas J. Turek 

Stone, K.R., A.W. Walgenbach, T.J. Turek, A. Freyer, and M.D. Hill. 2006.

Meniscus transplant and articular cartilage repair