David Chao, MD: Tiger Woods Faces A Long Road To Recovery

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Tiger Woods rolled his car early this morning and is now in surgery for multiple leg injuries. We have no idea about the extent of his lower extremity trauma but given the pictures of the car, the need for the “jaws of life” and his recent back surgery, so far, he seems quite lucky.

Things could be a lot worse. With an extensive history of back problems that includes five surgeries and a spine fusion, the fact that his back is not reported to be the subject of immediate medical care is the silver lining. His most recent lumbar surgery was just two months ago, and the energy involved in an accident like this certainly could have placed his spine at risk.

Undoubtedly, he has a long road to recovery. I have no idea about specific leg injuries, but to require immediate surgery indicates an open (through skin) injury, very unstable fracture, joint dislocation or arterial injury. All of these would require extensive recovery that would likely preclude competitive golf in 2021. 

Given the extensive back issues, new leg injuries and his age (45), one has to be concerned about Tiger’s future. Yes, Tiger has beaten the odds once before with his 2019 Masters win (15th major) after an 11-year gap. Now with at least another year off, another year of aging and more injuries to deal with, the chances of a return to the top of the PGA Tour seem remote.

We all wish Tiger well and a speedy recovery. He has beaten the odds before, but the odds have just gotten longer.

Late Tuesday evening, Woods’ camp issued the following statement:

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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