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Tiger Woods' ACL Surgery: FAQ

Woods to Get ACL Reconstruction and Expects to Miss the Rest of the PGA Season
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 18, 2008 -- On the heels of his U.S. Open victory, Tiger Woods today bowed out of the rest of the PGA tour season to get ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee.

That's the same knee that had arthroscopic surgery in April, as well as other operations in 1994 and 2002.

Woods also has a double stress fracture of his left tibia (shin bone) due to intense rehabilitation and training before the U.S. Open, states Woods' official web site.

Illustration of torn ACL in left knee jointAs Woods battled his way to victory in a sudden-death playoff, he could be seen wincing in pain. But his ACL injury dates back to last year, when he tore his ACL while running at his Florida home.

Woods decided not to get ACL reconstruction at the time and to play through the pain. He won five of his next six tournaments, then had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in April.

Did Woods push too hard in the U.S. Open? And what does his latest surgery mean for his career? WebMD spoke with Allan Mishra, MD, and Patrick McCulloch, MD, about that.

Mishra is a clinical assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. McCulloch is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Mishra and McCulloch aren't treating Woods.

Do you think the sudden-death playoff may have pushed his knee over its limits, or do you think that wasn't the deciding factor?

McCulloch: If a knee is painful and swollen, we generally recommend cutting back on the activities. In his case, he didn't have the opportunity to do that and in fact had to play more than expected. I think that when you continue to play with a painful knee or a swollen knee, it tends to do you a disservice.

Mishra: I'm sure he wasn't happy about playing an extra 18 holes on Monday and then having to go to the sudden-death playoffs; he certainly wasn't counting on that. I don't know if it pushed him over the edge because he already knew he had a torn ACL.

Do you think he tried to come back too fast after that arthroscopic surgery in April?

Mishra: No, I don't know for sure, but he knew what he had -- it sounds like he knew he had an ACL tear and made a conscious decision not to get it done and now he's going to have to do the bigger procedure, which actually in the long run may be better for him.

McCulloch: It's hard to know what he had done [in April]. If he had a meniscus tear and the torn part was removed, then typically we let patients walk on it right away. They're off crutches in a few days, and they can usually return to sports around the six-week mark. So his timing would have been appropriate for that. In his case, it's different because he's had a torn ligament as well, so he may have developed new problems or new injuries in the knee related to that.

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