Whether you’re a golf fan or not, you know who Tiger Woods is. But did you know he has struggled with back pain for years? Most recently, he confirmed on his website that he had surgery to deal with his back pain. The pain had sidelined him and forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic golf tournament. Woods had been playing one of the worst rounds of his career and was struggling.

Like many professional athletes, Woods has dealt with pain and injury on and off during his lengthy career. In 2002, he overhauled his swing to help prevent injury after hurting his left knee for the second time. Woods later ruptured his ACL in the same knee, and had surgery months after. Woods also injured his Achilles tendon numerous times.

Woods is now 38 years old, young in normal terms but on the older end for a pro athlete. Although golfers usually enjoy longer careers than, say, baseball or football players, golf is still a repetitive sport. These repeated motions can lead to overuse and then injury.

Tiger’s Back Pain

In May 2010, Woods withdrew from a tournament almost halfway through the final round due to a tingling sensation down his right side. It was suspected that he had a herniated disc, but that was never confirmed.

In August 2013, Woods complained of a stiff neck and only played nine holes (out of eighteen) in a tournament. During the thirteenth hole, he dropped to the ground in visible pain. Woods blamed the pain on a too-soft hotel mattress. Read about the importance of choosing the correct mattress here.

In March 2014, Woods dropped out of the Honda Classic tournament with back pain. It was clear from Tiger’s stance, stretching, and movements that he was suffering from back pain during his last round. He aggravated his back while taking a shot on the sixth hole and said, “Well, it’s tough. I mean, it was just one thing that set it off.”

In April 2014, Woods confirmed that he underwent a microdiscectomy to deal with a pinched nerve that had been troubling him in recent years. This means Woods will not be participating in The Masters, and instead will be in recovery from surgery. His goal is to start playing again in summer 2014.

Microdiscectomy Procedure

A microdiscectomy is usually done to treat a herniated disc. It is possible that Woods had a herniated disc compressing his nerve and causing pain. A discectomy procedure removes the herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. A microdiscectomy uses a special microscope to view the disc and surrounding area. This view allows the physician to have a smaller incision and cause less disturbance to the tissue surrounding the herniation.

Back Pain and Golf

Golfers can develop back pain and overuse injuries due to the repeated motions of golf.

Jason Stodelle, a physiotherapist with the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA), estimates that half the competitors in any given week will visit him for treatment.

“Lower back injuries are the main one for us,” said Stodelle. “Probably 30% of the guys who come in here have lower back injuries, which is usually repetitive golf swing related. The exception is if players have hit a heavy shot from the rough, for example.”

Even for a recreational golfer, it’s important to have proper mechanics in your golf swing to avoid injury.

If you want to learn more about the microdiscectomy procedure or if you’re experiencing back pain, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964 to learn more.