For the fourth time, Tiger Woods has undergone back surgery, this time to alleviate ongoing pain in his leg and his back.
In a statement posted on his website, Woods revealed that after previous herniations and three surgeries, a disc in his lower back had narrowed severely causing sciatica and severe pain in his back and his leg.
The surgery, called a minimally invasive anterior lumbar interbody fusion, was performed after other treatment measures had not successfully eliminated the pain, the statement said.
The procedure involves removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels, allowing one vertebrae to heal to another.
“The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said on his website. “When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long.”
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ longtime agent, said Woods had tried other avenues of rehabilitation with limited success.
“This surgery, while it is fusion and that’s obviously a scary term, this allows for permanent relief, it gives you that space in your back for permanent relief and not worrying about when that nerve is going to be touched again,” Steinberg said.
“He tried for several years remedies other than this. It drove him to the point where he was told by some very respected doctors and consultants that if you want to once and for all be in a position to be secure in living an active lifestyle, which includes doing what you want with your children and playing competitive golf, this is what their recommendation was.”
Steinberg said Woods explained his situation during a course-opening ceremony Tuesday in Missouri when he said he has good days and bad days.
“This fusion gives him the best chance to not have any bad days and allow him to actually come back and do the things he wants to do without sitting there wondering whether or not there’s going to be a spasm that pops up,” Steinberg said.
“It almost feels like a weight off his shoulders. It’s like, ‘Wow, I can actually sit here and I don’t have pain in my back and my leg.’ To hear the sense of relief of ‘I have a clear path to not having this pain’ is an excitement. He was willing to forgo the balance of this FedEx (Cup) year and say let’s just do this once and for all and give me a good run at it the next several years.”
Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute performed the surgery.
“After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed,” Guyer said in the statement on Woods’ website. “Once that’s accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf.
“If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur. Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion.”
On average, patients undergoing this procedure are able to return to full activity in approximately six months, the statement said.