Tiger Woods faces difficult recovery after crash

The single car crash in Southern California caused significant injuries to Tiger Woods' right leg. He underwent what was described as a “long surgical procedure” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. (Feb. 24)

Video Transcript

JOSEPH PATTERSON: His recovery may take a long time-- months to years-- and it may not be complete. We know that the injury to Tiger's legs involves the upper and lower portions of the tibia-- or his shinbone-- the ankle and his foot. It means that his ankle joint, the essential joints of his foot, and possibly, his knee may be affected. If these fractures involve the surfaces of those joints, meaning the cartilage and other tissues, those joints are at risk for deteriorating a little quicker than they otherwise would, meaning developing arthritis or getting stiff.

And because these fractures are open, that means that the bone fragments came out of his skin and were exposed to the outside world, including bacteria. Open fractures have a higher rate of infection, and, so, urgent surgery to clean the affected area was necessary. I think the most striking part, for me, is that a surgical release was necessary. And that tells me this was an incredibly severe trauma. It means that Tiger was at risk for, or developed, what's called a compartment syndrome, a condition of extreme swelling.

MICHAEL GARDNER: My patients who have these injuries-- who are not elite athletes-- I tell them we're gonna do everything we can to get the bone to heal, to avoid complications, and to get you back to function as best we can. But, unfortunately, the nature of this injury is such that it is truly a life-altering injury. Personally-- being a very big Tiger Woods fan-- I would say, unfortunately, it's very, very unlikely that he returns to be a professional golfer after these injuries. It really would be difficult for any golfer, but his age, his multiple back issues, this is going to be a very long road ahead if he chooses to attempt to return to his previous level of golfing.