Els Confirms Major Knee Damage

By Brian HewittAugust 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
Ernie Els confirmed Monday that the injury to his left knee, first disclosed last week, is a rupture to the anterior cruciate ligament, commonly referred to as the ACL.
The ACL provides rotational stability to the knee and its soundness is crucial to the function of the golf swing. Els had surgery last Thursday during which it was discovered that a complete ACL reconstruction will be necessary. That cant happen, according to Els doctor, until full range of motion returns to the joint and current swelling subsides.
Els said the injury occurred during a sailing holiday in the Mediterranean last week. Im going to have to take a break from golf, said the worlds third-ranked player. All I have to do now is focus on getting better.
The initial surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Unwin at Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor, England. Writing in his website, Els relayed these words from Dr. Unwin:
Interestingly enough ACL ruptures in themselves do not cause pain, except in the first few weeks after the injury. The main problem without a (healthy) ACL is that the knee is unstable on pivoting. Activities such as running and cycling are usually possible without too much trouble.However, activities that require agility and twisting motions on the knee are often not possible in the absence of a competent ACL.
Golf is one of those activities. Unwin went on to say Els will need a reconstructive surgery, at an unspecified date in the future, to fix the ACL. Unwin said there are three options to replace a damaged ACL. He has chosen to do so using Els own hamstring tendons as replacement material. They will be held in the bone around the knee using small screws and anchors in an arthroscopic procedure.
The recovery time, Unwin said, is not short. But, he added, He (Els) should be able to start playing gentle golf at 8-10 weeks and hopefully playing professionally again by 16 weeks. This compares very favorably with contact sports such as soccer or rugby where a return is delayed for six to nine months.
Im not dwelling on my bad luck, Els said while thanking all the friends and fans around the world who have expressed their concern.
Els situation appears to be more serious than Tiger Woods left knee surgery which took place in December of 2002. Woods also had damage to his ACL. But it was not a rupture. At that time Dr. Thomas Rosenberg drained fluid inside and outside Woods left ACL while also removing benign cysts.
Woods returned the following February and won in his first start at the Buick Invitational. He also captured two of his next three PGA Tour starts after that.
Related links:
  • Player Bio - Ernie Els
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