Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 6, 2016
Golf’s most prestigious event will go forward without its most iconic golfer, as Tiger Woods announced over the weekend that he would be skipping The Masters in an effort to ensure his spine is at its healthiest when he returns to the course.
Woods held out hope that he would be able to return to the course in time for Augusta, but it’s clear his spine is still feeling the effects of two microdiscectomy operations.
“I’ve said all along that this time I need to be cautious and do what’s best for my long-term health and career,” Woods wrote on his website. “Unfortunately, playing Augusta wouldn’t be the right decision. I’m absolutely making progress, and I’m really happy how far I’ve come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf.”
The 14-time major winner underwent a second microdiscectomy procedure back in October, and many medical experts suggested it would be unrealistic to expect Tiger to be back on the course in early April, at least on a competitive level. Those in the golf community know that Woods has always done everything in his power to be healthy for the Masters, and some speculated that he could make a return after video surfaced of him hitting his irons in his in-home golf simulator, but it appears it was all just a tease.
Both Tiger and his agent stressed that there was no timetable for his return, so while it’s difficult to try and pinpoint when he might return to action, we can at least speak to the mechanics of the microdiscectomy operation. The goal of microdiscectomy surgery is to decompress an area of the spine. Typically, a microdiscectomy is performed to treat a herniated lumbar disc that is causing problems or pressure on the surrounding structures. If the disc impinges certain nerves, it can cause shooting leg pain, arm weakness and mild to moderate pain.
What’s not so clear is why Woods is still dealing with pain. Physical activity is typically ruled out for 2-6 weeks after an operation, but returning to sports at a professional level can take a lot longer. To perform at the best of his ability, every part of his body has to be in sync. Unfortunately, Woods has had so many injuries in his career that other parts of his body are trying to compensate for one another. His knees and spine – natural shock absorbers – have absorbed so much stress over the years that they have begun to break down. Woods may eventually feel healthy enough to return to the course, but he’s not going to be able to challenge at golf’s major events, because he won’t be able to generate the power that he used to by channeling strength from his spine and knees. If he returns to the course in 2016, it seems likely that we’ll see him hovering near the cut line, not perched at the top of the leaderboard.