Tiger Woods underwent yet another spine surgery last week to relieve chronic back spasms and sciatic pain in his legs. This is his fourth spine surgery in less than three years, and adds to his previous four knee procedures (one of which was during college).
This time, Tiger received a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF), a procedure that removes a large portion of a degenerated disk that is causing back pain and replaces it with a bone graft. The goal of a fusion procedure is to provide stability to the spine and reduce painful symptoms. Instability can occur due to a number of conditions including herniated disks, degenerated disks, scoliosis, spinal fractures and more. This procedure is quite common and the results should be very favorable for Tiger.
A history of back problems
The Spine Health Institute has been following the saga of Tiger’s back problems for some time. He started talking about his cervical pain and possible bulging disks back in 2010. In 2014 he withdrew from tournaments due to lower back spasms and had a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve in March of that same year. He continued to withdraw from tournaments before having a second microdiscectomy to remove a disk fragment in September 2015. In October 2015, he had a follow-up procedure to relieve discomfort, bringing us to his recent fusion procedure last Wednesday.
It’s safe to say that Tiger has had his fair share of health setbacks during his 21 years as a professional golfer. So what does this latest procedure mean for his career?
Anterior lumber interbody fusion
It isn’t a surprise that Tiger and his doctor decided to go with an ALIF procedure. A patient with back spasms and sciatic pain in his or her legs can benefit greatly from a fusion surgery, especially if all other treatments have been exhausted. Minimally invasive ALIF procedures provide great results with minimal scarring because the spine is approached through the front of the body, leaving the back muscles and nerves untouched. The recovery time is also shorter due to smaller incisions and less interference with surrounding muscles and tissue.
You can watch a video explaining the procedure in our SpineU video library here: http://www.thespinehealthinstitute.com/anterior-lumbar-interbody-fusion-alif.
Is the fourth time a charm?
Outcomes from this procedure are very good when accompanied with a proper recovery time and physical therapy. That being said, it looks like we probably won’t see Tiger pick up a club for about six months while he heals and recuperates. After that, he’ll have to practice proper bending, lifting and twisting techniques both on and off the green. We hope to see Tiger back in play in no time, and wish him a speedy recovery.
If you’re looking to improve your golf swing while strengthening your spine, then we highly encourage you to join our Golf Fore Life program. The Golf Fore Life program uses a 12-point screening process that addresses your posture before, during and after your swing, your joint motions throughout the swing and your stability and positioning at the finish. Call Call407-303-3451 for more information.
For educational videos and up-to-date information on spine treatments and procedures, visit our free SpineU video library. If you are experiencing back pain, we encourage you to call Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute. He and his multidisciplinary team can diagnose and treat a variety of spinal conditions both conservatively and surgically. You’ll be back to your routine in no time.