Tiger Woods faces long road to recovery after lengthy surgery to repair injuries

Tiger Woods was injured in a single-car accident on Tuesday in Los Angeles and reports have indicated he has shattered his right leg including a broken tibia, fibula and ankle.

Woods was driving a courtesy car at the time of the accident after hosting The Genesis Invitational tournament at Riviera Golf Club and spending Monday giving golf lessons to actor David Spade and basketballer Dwayne Wade.

Woods has not played tournament golf this year after recently undergoing a fifth back operation and told TV broadcasters during the Genesis Invitational that he was doing all he could to be back on course for The Masters Tournament in April.

Sadly now, it looks unlikely we will see Tiger Woods back playing golf any time soon.

When early reports of the accident came through on Tuesday morning (Los Angeles time), many were fearing the worst. If you’ve seen the state of the car after the crash you’ll understand their concern and it’s perhaps surprising Woods has managed to get out of this with ‘just’ a shattered leg.

Tiger Woods issued a statement after coming out of surgery to first outline the extent of his injuries.

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UNSW, Ian Harris has explained Woods’ surgical procedure in a piece for The Conversation. It’s clear Woods has a long road to recovery ahead of him with the major concern being the state of his ankle post-surgery.

The interesting thing about Woods’ injuries is that, while the “open” and “comminuted” fractures of the tibia and fibula sound very bad, if he can avoid the early problem of infection, these injuries on their own do not necessarily mean that he will have any permanent problems.

Once healed, the leg can potentially be just as straight and strong as it was before. Muscles can be strengthened and skin and bones usually heal.

The point of most concern relating to his long-term function is the part of the statement that said: “additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins”.

Injuries that involve the joints — the parts where one bone joins another bone — are the ones that commonly lead to long-term problems. This is especially the case in the foot and ankle, as these joints take our whole body weight when walking. And these joints allow us to not only walk normally, but also swing a golf club.

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