The Painful Truth About Tiger's Knee

National Public Radio - Morning Edition—June 19, 2008

Woods says he was injured while jogging 10 months ago but decided against surgery in order to take part in further competitions. He opted instead for a more minor procedure to clean out cartilage in his left knee but a couple of weeks prior to the U.S. Open, he says he suffered a double stress fracture of the shin.

Dr. Robert Marx of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York says the torn ligament likely put Woods at higher risk for the other injuries, especially given his particularly powerful swing.

"Of professional golfers, Tiger Woods probably has the hardest, most aggressive swing of all -- maybe in the history of professional golf, one may argue," Marx said. "If you watch him hit his driver off the tee he really goes after the ball hard and really twists his body hard to generate the power to hit it so far."

While this sort of injury is more common in sports that involve more pivoting, like basketball, it can happen to anyone. In order to repair it, doctors will create an entirely new ligament for Woods because the damage to his knee is apparently extensive enough to require one, rather than a simpler procedure that would involve sewing the ends of the existing ruptured ACL together. A typical time frame for recovery from such a surgery is a return to normal physical activity in three months and a full athletic regimen in six.

But, according to Marx, Woods will be up and about much sooner than that.

"In the case of someone like Tiger Woods, I would expect him to be hitting golf balls in 8 to 12 weeks and I wouldn't be surprised to see him return to competition in six months," Marx said. "People like Tiger Woods, who are professional athletes, tend to recover faster than the average individual."

Listen to the full story on npr.org.

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