Tiger Woods Undergoes Another Back Surgery to Alleviate Pain
Author: Dr. Hamid Abbasi
DATE: 14 Jun 2017
Tiger Woods, a 41-year old golf super-star and 14-time winner, tried the conservative approach to dealing with his back pain. It didn’t work for him and four back surgeries later, he’s still hopeful. Ongoing pain in his back and leg led him to try yet another surgery and this time, he’s optimistic that it will be a success.
As with many patients who undergo spinal surgery, Tiger Woods wants to get back to his everyday life. He wants to play with his kids and in his case, hopefully compete again as a professional golfer. Back spasms led him to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic and though he was the former world champion in golf, he hasn’t competed professionally since that time. He did try to compete in the Masters at Augusta National, but his back rehab program didn’t allow enough practice for him to get “tournament ready”.
After spinal surgery, most patients are able to return to their normal daily routine and regular activity levels within about six months as long as they properly care for themselves. During recovery, patients are encouraged to first, rest, sleep often, eat well, and get a small amount of exercise. During this initial recovery phase which usually lasts 3 to 6 days, patients must ask for help often from family or friends for basic things like picking up objects off the floor.
After the first week of recovery passes, patients may graduate to being able to engage in other activities. With a doctor’s approval, they may be able to go for a short walk or engage in other light forms of exercise. At one-month post-op, patients will start to feel remarkably better in some respects, but pain may increase and become worse during this time too. The pain will slowly diminish over the course of 2 to 4 more moths of recovery. Patients are often urged to view pain as a signal to slow down during this time.
Woods plans to rest for several weeks following the surgical procedure and then begin physical therapy. He’s hopeful that within 6 months, he’ll be fully operational again. Typically, patients will experience a full recovery within 6 months after surgery with proper therapy and plenty of recuperative rest. For Tiger Woods, rehabilitative therapy will be geared at allowing him to compete again as a professional golfing champion.
Woods has suffered three previous disc herniations and endured three other spinal operations. As a result, discs in his lower back were compressed causing sciatica, severe chronic back pain, and leg pain. He tried conservative treatments like rehab, medications, limiting physical activities, and injections, but all of these alternative treatment options failed. It was at this time that he opted for surgery to fix the problem. On this fourth and latest surgery, the damaged disc was removed and the painful vertebrae were realigned to create the necessary space for the nerve roots to pass through.
The third surgery that Woods endured resulted in a 17-month absence during which time he missed the Farmers Insurance Open and then shot a 77 opening-round a week later in Dubai. Spinal surgery patients who are impatient to heal and get back into the swing of things like Tiger Woods should take note that sometimes it takes longer to heal than originally planned. A full recovery happens in stages over time that varies from patient-to-patient.