As many of us are aware, Tiger Woods suffered a traumatic injury to his lower extremity following a car crash on February 23, 2021. These types of high impact injuries call for emergent attention and result in a lengthy recovery. We watched the rehab process NFL Quarterback Alex Smith endured to make an impressive come back after sustaining a similar type of injury. What type of injury did Tiger exactly suffer? Here we break it down.
Tiger sustained an open and comminuted fracture of his Tibia and Fibula, two of the three bones that comprise the ankle joint. A comminuted fracture is one in which the bone is broken into multiple pieces rather than just two pieces in a traditional transverse or spiral oblique fracture pattern. An open fracture requires emergent attention as the risk of infection increases substantially. This means the bone penetrated the skin from the inside-out, causing a significant amount of soft tissue damage. Open fractures can even cause vascular or nerve damage depending on the severity. For Tiger Woods’ type of fractures, a rod is most commonly used to stabilize the Tibia, while a plate and screws stabilize the fibula. He also underwent a fasciotomy which is a surgical procedure to release the fascia, thick tissue which compartmentalizes muscles in the leg. This procedure is warranted when pressure in the leg rises high enough to compress the blood vessels, which can result in permanent damage. Depending on the fasciotomy incision, this may require a skin graft or wound VAC to close the open wound. We know Tiger will have a lengthy road of rehab and physical therapy ahead; however, given his resilience, we are hopeful he will overcome the complications that lie in healing from this degree of injury.
On a positive note, in Podiatric Surgery, not all fractures are as emergent as Tiger Woods’. Many fractures are triaged through an urgent care or Podiatrist who can then determine if your fracture requires surgical fixation. If you have an injury or fracture and need x-ray evaluation, Healthy Feet Podiatry remains open to treat with same day appointment consultation! Stay safe everyone!