The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Tennis News: Tommy Haas Repairs Plantar Plate Tear with Ninth Foot Surgery

Posted by on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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We like to tell our pro athletes patients that rehabilitation is part of their job description. Few know this better than tennis star Tommy Haas. The former World No. 2 has had eight operations over the span of 20 years, and he just underwent his ninth – this one to repair a torn ligament in his right foot. Haas assures fans he’ll return to the court as soon as possible. But how soon is this likely to be?

plantar plate tear
Tommy Haas recently injured a ligament in his plantar plate, requiring foot surgery. (Image Credit: Flickr CC user karlnorling)

What Happened to Tommy Haas?

According to ATP World TourHaas injured the ligament “near the second toe of his right foot,” which reportedly “started bothering him in October while he was practicing for the Shanghai Rolex Masters.” He could barely push off his right foot and had trouble with side-to-side movements in his first-round match against Kevin Anderson. The pain was quite severe, he recalled.

A week later, at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, the terrible pain returned during his three-set loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. His doctors surmised it was “likely a stress fracture” and told him to rest. Soon, Haas was unable to jog – or even walk. The German opted for surgery with Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina.

The surgeon said Haas’s recovery would take a good six months (which will put him back in the game this October). However, Haas has stated he might wait for 2017 to stage his big comeback. “I just have to let the healing process take place,” he said, adding that he’d like to leave tennis “on his own terms.” He admits the recovery will be “a very, very hard task” and there’s a chance he might not come back from it. “But there’s no doubt in my mind I’m certainly going to try,” he says.

Plantar Plate Tears

Tommy Haas’s torn ligament occurred along his plantar plate. The plantar plate is a ligament network on the bottom of the foot attaching your toes to the long metatarsal bones of your feet. If you feel symptoms such as pain under your second toe, a sensation like you’re walking directly on a bone, redness, swelling, and shifting of the toe, you may have injured this area. Without proper treatment, the cartilage can degrade, causing further injury and greater deformity.

Treatment for plantar plate ligament tears usually involves surgery, but may also involve custom molded orthotics and steroid injections for immediate pain relief. If the tear is detected early enough, favorable results can sometimes be achieved through an off-loading walking boot and physical therapy. Regardless of treatment type, you can expect four to eight weeks of rehab. With chronic problems like Tommy Haas’s, surgical repair is more detailed. The surgeon may need to complete additional procedures to hold the toe in alignment and straighten out a buckled joint. This can lengthen your recovery time.

Get Your Foot Assessed By NYC’s Finest Sports Podiatrists!

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in NYC is one of the finest places to have a sports injury assessed. Our board-certified podiatrists and podiatric surgeons have worked with Olympic athletes, as well as professional NY sports teams, particularly in tennis, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and marathon running. We have all the necessary diagnostic equipment in-house, so you don’t have to make a separate hospital visit. We can also treat you using the latest technology, from lasers and ultrasound to platelet rich plasma and ultrasonic debridement. If you have pain that limits your day-to-day activities, don’t “wait and see” – get a professional opinion and peace of mind right away by calling our office in Manhattan at (212) 996-1900, our office in Westchester at (914) 328-3400, or visiting us in person.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.