So the outcomes become equal at 24 years follow up (and interestingly at 3 months), but outcomes are better in between that for the surgical group (that brief period only). The exercise group also reported lesser incidences of swelling, mechanical problems, and restricted range of motion. There are other studies suggesting that for degenerative meniscal injuries, rehab should be considered first.
I wonder if this and more studies will change the practice of managing knee meniscus injuries in athletes. Just got word that Jimmy Butler injured his meniscus (after controversially not playing in the NBA All-Star Game to get needed rest playing the most minutes per game). Then there's the sad story of Brandon Roy, whose career you could argue was destroyed by surgeons; he needed a proper strength coach to fix his problems leading up to the injury risk. I'm biased towards rehab for most sports injuries. But I'm not the expert in the field, just an enthusiast. But I believe for the most part, we should not touch them with probes and debriders; this ain't no ACL.