Tiger Woods Spine Surgery
Injuries to the back can be a bane for any person. It can cause so much pain and can disable movement to the point that the person cannot be 100% functional. While back injuries usually affect every man, even those who meticulously take care of their bodies can fall prey to these injuries. One famous example of this is Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer the world has ever seen.
For some people, the career of Tiger Woods mainly ended because of a string of bad decisions off the greens. However, beyond these issues, Woods’ health was actually deteriorating.
At his prime, Woods was considered as an athletic marvel, dominating the sport of golf in a way that was never seen before. However, injuries to his legs, and later to his back, would sap out his dominant form and nearly ended his career.
Tiger Woods Spine Surgery and Lower Back Pain
The early signs of Tiger Woods lower back pain emerged during the 2010 season. A series of leg injuries, including a torn Achilles tendon, a torn ACL, and stress fractures in his left leg, has probably contributed to the deterioration of the rest of this body. Of course, all this was not yet apparent during this time, as Woods still played very well whenever he was not on the injured list.
The first sign of back trouble manifested in 2010 when he withdrew from the final round of The Players Championship because of a bulging disc in his back. He was able to recover without surgery, but it turned out to be a precursor of more back injuries to come.
First Take on Back Surgery
On the interim, Tiger’s back injuries worsened. He famously fell to one knee after a shot because his back spasms were so bad. As his standing in the world rankings plummeted, so did his overall health. The first Tiger Woods back operation was done in 2014, a procedure that repaired a pinched nerve in his back.
Just a year later, he will once again go under the knife, this time shaving a portion of his back’s disc that was compressing on one of his spinal nerves. And then, in the same year (2015), he underwent another back procedure and was out indefinitely.
Winning the Back Surgery Lottery
Given Tiger Woods’ back surgery history, a lot of people thought that his career was over. He has basically vanished from the conversation of the best golfers in the world, and the image of him dominating golf tournaments worldwide has become nothing more than a distant memory. That is when he underwent his 4th back surgery, a spinal fusion. At this point, he did not wish anymore to become the world-beater he once was, but he just wanted a “normal life” just like most of us, free from multiple surgeries and pain that required opioids just to relieve.
The procedure is called spinal fusion surgery. This procedure involves the removal of the disc, the connective tissue that serves as a shock absorber between 2 vertebrae, and then the fusion of the two adjacent bones together. This essentially makes the two adjacent vertebrae just one unit (hence fusion).
There are some drawbacks to undergoing this procedure, such as the reduction of back flexibility (because again, the two bones are already fused, so there is zero movement in that portion of the back). However, the gamble here is that the fusion will provide much needed back stability and prevent affected nerves from being pinched.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery
Upon investigation of available options, Tiger Woods’s surgeon decided, along with Woods himself, that the approach they will use in repairing his back is the anterior lumbar interbody fusion, also known as ALIF. This is a departure from the usual approach of spinal fusion, which usually goes for a posterior approach.
A fusion implant was attached to his back, specifically at the ailing L5-S1 section. After the spine surgery, Tiger Woods went back to rehabilitation and physical therapy. This time, the goal was not to come back to what he once was, but just to be able to return to functionality.
Incredibly, this procedure somehow propelled Woods back into the game of golf. Thanks to the guidance of his medical team and his own dedication in getting his career (and his life) back together, Woods was all of a sudden back in the golfing circuit. And while he was not as dominant as he once was, he once again showed why many saw him as someone destined to become one of the greats in the sport.
More than a year after that fateful Tiger Woods back fusion surgery of 2017, Woods won the 2019 Masters. This was his 5th victory at the most prestigious tournament in golf, and it was perhaps the most unexpected and sweetest of them all.
If you are dealing with a severe back injury that might require surgery, consult us here at Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery of Texas. Our team, led by renowned spine surgeon, Dr. Scott Kutz, is highly experienced in providing minimally invasive treatments for different spinal and neurosurgical cases.
You don’t have to be a world-class athlete like Tiger Woods to enjoy world-class treatment and return to a functional, pain-free life. You can book an appointment, call, send an email, or visit our website to know more if a “Tiger Woods spine surgery” procedure performed by us or another approach can help your ailing back best.