This is usually one of the first questions people ask after they become injured and/or are contemplating surgery.  The most common orthopedic injuries and surgeries will be listed below as well as general guidelines for return to tennis. I would emphasize that these are “average” times assuming no complications and a strict adherence to a surgeon directed physical therapy program.


Non Surgical :      

  1. Rotator cuff tendinitis/Bursitis – Physical therapy + or – a cortisone injection. May return to play as soon as pain free.
  2. Shoulder separation: 4-6 weeks
  3. Shoulder dislocation: if non-surgical then return in 4- 6 weeks after appropriate physical therapy.

4.“Frozen shoulder” also known as adhesive capsulitis – can vary from 2 months to a year.  Generally when pain is gone and motion is close to normal.


1.Rotator cuff repair – For small tears (<1cm) I generally allow my patients to start hitting groundstrokes and volleys 3 months postoperatively. Patients may begin serving at around 4 months post op.  For medium and                      large tears I prefer to hold groundstrokes and volleys for 4 months and serving until 6 months.  Serving and one handed backhands are hardest on the rotator cuff.

  1. Instability or “Labrum” surgery – Generally the same guidelines as for repair of a small rotator cuff repair.
  2. Total Shoulder Arthroplasty or Shoulder “Replacement” – Return to groundstrokes at around 4 months and serving at 6 months

Hip: Patients with an elective hip replacement can typically get back on the court in 2-3 months.  For patients who underwent surgery to repair a fracture in the hip the timeframe to return to play is usually closer to 6 months.


Non Surgical:

  1. Medial Collateral Ligament sprain: 6-8 weeks depending on the grade (I-III). Rarely requires surgery
  2. Patellar tendinitis – as pain allows
  3. Meniscus tears – many can be treated without surgery. May return within 1-2 weeks after rest/NSAIDS + or – cortisone injection.
  4. ACL tear – if treated without surgery may return with a brace once swelling is gone and ROM and strength are normal (approx 4-6 weeks if isolated to ACL without concomitant meniscus or ligament injury)
  5. PCL tear – rarely requires surgery. Sometimes requires a brace. Usually may return to play within 4 weeks.
  6. Patellar instability – Dislocation of the patella or partial dislocation (also known as subluxation). Treated with brace and PT approx 6-8 weeks to return.
  7. Stress Fracture of femur or tibia – 6-12 weeks


  1. Arthroscopic Meniscectomy – the most common orthopedic procedure performed where the torn portion of the meniscus is removed – 6 weeks
  2. Arthroscopic Meniscus Repair – 4-6 months. A completely different rehab and recovery than partially removing a torn meniscus.
  3. ACL reconstruction  – 5 months at the earliest. Most people take 9-12 months.
  4. Patellar realignment and/or ligament reconstruction – 6 months
  5. Knee Replacement – 3 months

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