Tiger Woods Sustains Severe Injury to His Leg, Ankle & Foot
Tiger Woods sustained a severe, high energy injury to his leg, ankle and foot. Based on the news releases he had an open, segmental tibia fracture. This means that the tibia (the long bone of the shin) was broken in multiple places and came through the skin. This was stabilized with a long metal rod inserted in the top of the tibia. He also had damage to his ankle and bones of his foot (it is not clear which ones). These fractures were stabilized with ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) with some combination of plates and screws. The news release also mentions “trauma to the muscle and soft tissues which required surgical release.” This means that he had a dangerous buildup of pressure within the muscles, a condition called compartment syndrome, which is common in traumatic injuries like these. This is a limb threatening condition if not treated emergently.
Reports indicate that Tiger Woods has sustained a talus injury. It is not clear whether this is on the same leg as his tibia injury or the other leg. The talus is a bone that connects the ankle to the foot. It is responsible for almost all the motion in the foot and ankle(up and down and side to side). A serious injury to the talus can have devastating effects on foot and ankle motion and function. Complications from talus injuries are arthritis of the ankle, subtalar, and talonavicular joints which can severely affect motion of the foot and ankle. The worst case scenario is something called avascular necrosis where the bone actually dies. A newer treatment for this injury is a total talus replacement. The orthopedic foot and ankle center is one of the few centers in America that performs this surgery.
His injuries are very similar in nature to those of WFT QB Alex Smith. He faces an extended recovery of many months to years. He is at high risk of infection, delayed bone and wound healing, and requiring multiple surgeries as well. His return to competitive golf at a high level is certainly at risk. As more information emerges, the outlook for Tiger to return to golf is becoming bleaker.