3 things to know about Tiger’s latest ankle surgery

May 2, 2023

According to a statement posted recently to Tiger Woods’ Twitter account, the 15-time major champion underwent a subtalar (joint just below the ankle) fusion procedure to address arthritis caused by his previous talus (ankle) fracture.

This surgery is one in a series of leg and ankle-related treatments Woods has received since his single-car accident in 2021. Fortunately, the California native was the only passenger when the vehicle reportedly flipped over several times in the early morning near Woods’ home. The Los Angeles Times reported that Woods' injuries consisted of a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, one of which was a compound fracture.

Dr. Daniel Bohl, a foot and ankle surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH, explains more about Woods’ surgery and possible outcomes:

Three things to know about Tiger’s surgery:

  • Tiger had a fusion of his subtalar joint. The subtalar joint is not the ankle joint. The ankle joint does the ‘up and down’ motion of your ankle. The subtalar joint does the side-to-side motion. A subtalar fusion should be less restricting than an ankle fusion in terms of his ability to compete. A subtalar fusion is the gold standard treatment for subtalar arthritis – there is no such thing as a subtalar joint replacement.
  • The fusion typically involves the placement of multiple screws across the joint and, if successful, should alleviate all of his arthritic pain. Once the fusion is achieved, the screws are obsolete but are typically left in place.
  • An arthritic subtalar joint probably doesn’t move much anyway. So, Tiger may not lose much motion with a subtalar fusion compared to what he had with an arthritic joint. Once the fusion is healed, his swing may not differ much from what he has at this point.

Tiger’s prognosis?

“Based on my experience, I believe that Tiger should be able to make a full return to professional golf," Dr. Bohl explains.

“He may have to be non-weight bearing for two months, and probably will not be allowed to fully swing and walk a golf course in a regular shoe until at least four months. Complete recovery including achieving his former strength, stride, swing, and performance could take an entire year and will require physical therapy and patience.”

Learn more about Dr. Bohl or schedule an appointment.