On Tuesday, February 23rd, one of the greatest golfers of all time was injured in a major automobile accident. A legendary figure in the sporting world, Tiger Woods, sustained a fracture to his lower leg bone. David Jaskwhich, MD, from the Lowcountry Orthopaedics Sports Medicine Team identified the injury as a comminuted tibia fracture.
This type of fracture occurs when “the lower leg bone breaks into multiple pieces, usually two larger pieces and many smaller fragments”, shares Dr. Jaskwhich. “In order for the leg to break like this, the injury usually requires a significant amount of force, such as a motor vehicle accident. This type of fracture is difficult to fix because the fractures don’t go together easily and usually requires either a rod or some type of external frame to stabilize the bone.”
The injury is increasingly complex due to it being an open fracture. “An open fracture,” Dr. Jaskwhich explains, “involves a situation where the bone actually sticks out through the soft tissue in the skin and usually gets contaminated by the environment. When a fracture is open, there is concern about the bone and soft tissue becoming infected and leading to long-term complications. This may well require IV antibiotic treatment.”
Additional complications in the muscle and soft tissue of the leg are also considered in evaluating the seriousness of the injuries Tiger Woods sustained. “When the bone breaks in a motor vehicle accident, oftentimes there is a significant injury to the muscle and soft tissue as well. In this situation the surgeon may perform a fasciotomy which will release the muscle compartments and allow the muscle to survive,” says Dr. Jaskwhich.
The one question that’s all on our minds is if his injuries could end his career. According to Dr. Jaskwhich, “recovery from this type of injury may take several months for normal walking to occur. Sometimes it takes a full year to recover near-normal function. In addition, when the fracture is open, sometimes multiple surgeries are required to clear an infection.”
By adopting new technologies and developing new techniques, orthopaedic surgeons at Lowcountry Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine provide patients innovative surgical and nonsurgical techniques. To learn more about Dr. Jaskwhich as well as Lowcountry Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, click here. Please call 843-797-5050 to schedule an appointment.