Will Adrian Peterson Return to Play After His Meniscus Tear?


Adrian Peterson injured his knee again during a 5-yard run in the second half of the Viking’s game Sunday night. The injury occurred during a tackle which, likely, created significant force upon his, previously, reconstructed knee. Many readers may remember his remarkably successful comeback from ACL ( Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Reconstruction in 2013. That past injury has made Peterson’s most recent trauma under greater concern.

Peterson was, now, diagnosed with a meniscus tear and further treatment has not been announced. Obviously, the greatest question is when can he return to play?  It is not uncommon to tear a meniscus after an ACL reconstruction. The reconstruction itself does not increase the incidence of a a meniscus tear but a failed reconstruction can be a precursor to a meniscus tear. ACL tears, in of itself, causes instability in knee which, subsequently, can cause tears in the meniscus and, potentially, progression to arthritis. There was no diagnosis of a recurrent ACL tear which, likely, alleviated the team doctor’s greatest concern. Revising the ACL reconstruction would have surely put Peterson out for the year.

An isolated meniscus tear may allow Peterson to return, reasonably, quickly depending upon the type of tear he suffered. Some type of tears require very prompt surgical attention but some, very often, can even be treated non-surgically. For example, a bucket- handle meniscus tear is a large tear with a displaced fragment that locks the knee and prevents full motion. This type of tear requires immediate surgical intervention. A complex tear refers to a tear with extensions in multiple directions and an oblique tear is a tear in an angle that results in a sharp painful edge. These, often, result in surgery but it is not urgent. Unfortunately, most athletes with these type of tears experience significant pain, and possibly locking or buckling, that prevents them from performing at their best. Lastly, a horizontal cleavage tear is a tear in a horizontal pattern and often is minimally symptomatic. Patients with such a tear, often, can avoid surgery and return to activities after a course of rehabilitation.

The decision whether to operate on Mr. Peterson will, likely, depend upon the type of tear he suffered, the extent of his pain and if he is experiencing any buckling or locking. If the determination is to not proceed with immediate surgery then the prognosis is good that he will be able to return to play relatively promptly. Moreover, even if arthroscopic surgery becomes warranted for Peterson then there is, still, a good chance he will be able to return within a number of weeks of recovery. Of course, arthroscopic surgery for a meniscus tear can either repair a meniscus or remove the damaged tissue. If a meniscus repair becomes necessary for Mr. Peterson then that would delay his return to the field because of the extended recovery and caution after such a procedure.

– Dr. Leon Popovitz

New York Bone and Joint Specialists is a top rated, private Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practice in with locations in New York City, Hoboken and Englewood, NJ. The Orthopedic SurgeryPhysical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Pain Management specialists routinely perform surgical and non-surgical treatments for professional athletes from across the United States and various other countries.

Dr. Leon Popovitz and Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, along with their team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best-rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. This, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, leads to athletes of all levels returning to their top physical potential. Contact us today to schedule a consult!

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