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Will Tiger Woods Get Back into the Swing?

This February it was widely reported that Tiger Woods’ back injury would likely keep him from playing in any tournaments this year. Last fall, Woods, 40, underwent a second surgery on his back, followed by an undisclosed procedure to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. This caused much speculation that, at the very least, he would be absent from competition all of 2016. And indeed, for the second time in three years, there will be no Tiger Woods at this week’s Masters Tournament, the first of the sport’s four major championships.

Persistent Back Pain

Tiger Woods’ spine problems came to light in 2010 when he withdrew from The Players Championship due to neck pain. Then in 2013 he was brought to his knees at The Barclays, citing lower back pain from a herniated lumbar disk. By early 2014, back spasms sidelined his career, and he underwent a microdiscectomy, the first of his back surgeries. This minimally invasive surgery, during which pressure on the nerve is relieved by removing the offending disk material, allowed him to return to the PGA tour after several months of rehabilitation.

After another microdiscectomy and a follow-up procedure were performed last fall, the golf world made the ominous prediction that Tiger Woods’ career was dead. The buzz this February was that his back condition had worsened. Fortunately, the rumors were quickly put to rest—albeit with some skepticism—when recent videos of Woods swinging his club, as well as harsh denials from his agent and Woods himself, were posted on the internet.

Back in the Race

Of his decision to miss the 2016 Masters, Woods said “I’ve been hitting balls and training daily, but I’m not physically ready. 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.” This most certainly entails a continuing re-evaluation of his swing. By nature, the swing of a golf club makes the spine twist and the hips rotate excessively and abnormally. Woods has been working on strengthening his muscles, improving flexibility and perfecting a more back-friendly swing, and his decision to continue with intensive rehabilitation may well put him back in the race. Tiger Woods promises to resume his chase to top Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 tournament championships – just four more to go.

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Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery