The meniscal tear treatment paradigm traditionally begins with conservative measures such as physical therapy and referral for operative management for persistent or mechanical symptoms. As a result, the partial meniscectomy is performed more than any other orthopedic procedure in the United States. This treatment paradigm has shifted because recent literature has supported the attempt to preserve or repair the meniscus whenever possible given its importance for the structural integrity of the knee joint and the risk of early osteoarthritis associated after meniscus excision. Choosing an appropriate management strategy depends on multiple factors such as patient demographics and location of the tear. Physical therapy remains a first-line treatment for knee pain secondary to meniscus tear and should be pursued in the setting of acute and chronic knee pain. Furthermore, there is a growing amount of evidence showing that elderly patients with complex meniscus tears in the setting of degenerative arthritis should not undergo arthroscopic surgery. Direct meniscus repair remains an option in ideal patients who are young, healthy, and have tears near the more vascular periphery of the meniscus but it is not suitable for all patients. Use of orthobiologics such as platelet-rich plasma and mesenchymal stem cells have shown promise in augmenting surgical repairs or as standalone treatments, although research for their use in meniscal tear management is limited.
© 2018 American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.