If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’re probably familiar with some of the posts we’ve written on Tiger Woods and his ailing back. We wrote about his fourth spine surgery in which he underwent an anterior lumbar interbody fusion two years ago, and we blogged about his Tour Championship win back in September of 2018 as an example of how spine surgery can help you return to activities you love. Now we’re blogging about him again because he pulled off a feat that few thought was possible.
Over the weekend, Tiger Woods completed one of if not the most impressive comebacks in sports history after he bested the field at the 83rd Masters Tournament. The Masters is widely considered the Super Bowl of the golf world, and with the high criteria it takes to even qualify for the tournament, the winner needs to beat the best in golf in order to take home the coveted Green Jacket. After staying in contention through the second and third rounds of the tournament, Tiger roared to victory on Sunday, capturing his 15th major of his career.
Spine Surgery’s Role In His Return
Although Tiger had already won 14 major tournaments heading into The Masters, few people ever thought they’d see him get his 15th. It had been 11 years and four surgeries since his last major victory, and at 43 years old playing against players decades younger who had grown up watching Tiger, the odds were certainly stacked against him. But Tiger was able to pull off the impossible thanks to a few corrective spine surgery procedures and a commitment to his health.
Back in 2014, Woods underwent a microdiscectomy operation to relieve a nerve compression that was hindering his ability to even make it through a round of golf, let alone stay competitive. That surgery failed to fully relieve his pain, so he underwent another microdiscectomy to take care of the issue. A month after that procedure, Woods underwent an undisclosed procedure that was meant to address discomfort in the area.
Many would have assumed golf was off the table at this point, and it’s hard to imagine that the thought didn’t cross Woods’ mind as well. However, he was still battling back pain and decided to pursue the ALIF procedure in April of 2017. In that procedure, the surgeon worked remove a damaged spinal disc and restore collapsed disc space to normal height before performing a fusion operation. This process helped to decompress the spinal nerves that were causing pain sensations and spasms that were disrupting Woods’ game.
The procedure finally helped Woods find pain relief, and from there he charted a course of physical therapy and strength training to help stabilize his spine and prepare it for the rigors of professional golf. Slowly but surely, Woods’ game improved and he was not only able to return to the game he loved, but thrive at it. 11 years, four surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy later, Woods was able to return to golf’s ultimate stage and come out on top.
It just goes to show that if you trust your health to a dedicated medical team and you’re willing to put in the work when it comes to your rehab, anything is possible. So if you want to fix back pain that has been preventing you form playing golf, bicycling or playing with your grandkids, talk to a spine surgeon like Dr. Chang to take the first step on the path to wellness. For more information, contact our office today by clicking here or by calling (651) 430-3800.