Predictors of the outcome of physiotherapy following a meniscus tear: A systematic review

Andrew Kemp, Ben Hodgson, Lee Barnes, Toby Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Background: Physiotherapy is indicated for treatment of a painful degenerative knee meniscus tear. Predicting the outcome remains uncertain. Objective: The purpose of this systematic review was to identify which predictive factors are associated with the outcome of physiotherapy for degenerative knee meniscus tear. Methods: A systematic electronic literature search was undertaken of PubMed, CINAHL, Medline with AMED and EMBASE via Ovid from inception to July 2021. Studies of adults receiving physiotherapy which presented data on the association of baseline variables and the treatment outcome were included. Study quality was assessed using CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme) tools. Data were narratively analysed. Results: 1051 titles were retrieved and screened for eligibility. Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Nine studies investigated just degenerative tears. The evidence-base was of low/moderate quality. Across all studies, seven and five studies (100%) reported no association between mechanical symptoms and gender respectively (p > 0.05). There was no association with osteoarthritis in 80%, age in 71%, or body mass index in 60% of studies (p > 0.05). Four studies (80%) reported that higher baseline pain was associated with cross-over to surgery, greater improvement with surgery or less improvement in pain score (p > 0.05). Conclusion: Patient demographic characteristics provide minimal association with outcome following physiotherapy for degenerative meniscus tear. The evidence-base is limited in size and quality. A large adequately powered prospective cohort study investigating a broad range of predictive factors is warranted to develop a predictive model to better stratify those most likely to benefit from physiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalThe Knee
Early online date6 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Meniscus
  • Physiotherapy
  • Predictive factors

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