SportsDoc Update: Tiger Woods 4/2/14
1280 The Zone - April 2nd, 2014
Tags: Golf, Spence and Gordon, SportsDoc
Tiger Woods had what was reported to be a micro-discectomy which means he had a small part of the disc in his back that was pushing against a nerve removed. In general, back surgery isn't a good path to have to go down. Most back problems even those involving disc bulges irritating the nerves (commonly called Sciatica) can be resolved by some combination of therapy, exercises, medications and sometimes injections. It is most likely that Woods had tried many of these things as he has had reportedly had back issues before. If all those fail to resolve the problem, then surgery can be done. Usually the less of the disc that is removed, the better. Many athletes have this surgery and returned to play their sport.
The one problem Woods may have is that with golf there is a tremendous amount of torque that flows from the hips through the back to the arms to generate club speed. Woods in particular generates a lot of torque through his back with his big swing. While he is competitive enough that he will undoubtedly return to play, there will be a question about the endurance and longevity of his back. Anyone that has the surgery can be vastly improved with the particular surgery he had, but it still destabilizes the disc long term and will eventually come back in some way to cause problems. Hopefully, after a 3-6 month rehab stint he'll be back hitting balls as we all appreciate what he brings to the game. While his presence may sporadic there is still the potential for him to win a few more majors if things heal right, though my guess is not on a consistent basis.
Good luck to him.
Of note is the fact that he chose Utah and our doctors here to fix both his knee and his back which says a lot about the skill of our local physicians.