Tiger Woods has fourth back surgery with vertebral fusion; should be out 6 months

Tiger Woods has fourth back surgery with vertebral fusion; should be out 6 months

Credit: Hyon Smith

Tiger Woods revealed Thursday he has undergone a fourth back surgery since March 2014, with a vertebral fusion procedure that will keep him out of action approximately six months.

The fourth surgery was precipitated, Woods said on his website, by three previous surgeries including two microdiscectomies on the same spot on his back. As a result of that trio of surgeries, that disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain. Woods was left no choice after therapy and other attempted remedies failed to assuage the pain.

The procedure, performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute, was an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at the L5/S1 site on the back. The damaged disc between the vertebrae was removed and the collapsed disc space was restored to normal levels, with the idea of relieving pressuring on the sciatic nerve. What we don't know is how much bone and/or metal was used to create the fusion and if screws were used in the procedure.

"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods said. "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."


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Dr. Geyer expressed optimism for Woods' recovery given the location of the fusion.

"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," Guyer said, according to Woods' website.

The plan is now for Woods to rest for weeks leading into therapy and rehab that could see Woods back to "full activity" in six months. This means Woods will not play in any remaining events of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, and his scheduled comeback could begin in late October 2017.


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