Tiger Woods Undergoes Second Microdiscectomy on Back

Maple Grove MicrodiscectomyTiger Woods went under the knife again recently, opting to have a second microdiscectomy operation preformed on his ailing back.

The surgery means that Woods will withdraw from the final three scheduled events he had on his calendar, and it brings another disappointing season to a close. Woods failed to contend in any of the year’s four majors and he missed five cuts in 2015. Woods announced on Friday that he hopes to return to competitive golf in “early 2016.”

“This is certainly disappointing, but I’m a fighter,” Woods said. “I’ve been told I can make a full recovery, and I have no doubt that I will.”

This is the second time Woods has undergone the intricate operation on his back. His first microdiscectomy was back in March of 2014, and he only competed in seven events that season.

Surgery and Looking Ahead

Woods said on his personal website that he pursued a second back surgery after feeling pain and discomfort in his back and hips in recent weeks. Woods is used to playing through some discomfort after undergoing a host of operations throughout the course of his career, but the spinal compression came as surprise, as he had recently committed to playing in three tournaments to round out the year.

“He committed, thinking it was going to be a regular checkup,” said Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg. “Obviously, that area where he had the microdiscectomy had to be treated again. And it leads us to where we are now.”

The microdiscectomy operation removed a small disk fragment in his back that was compressing a nerve, which was the source of his pain. Woods announced that he “will begin intensive rehabilitation and soft tissue treatment within a week,” adding that “healing and recovery times differ for each individual based on many physiological factors, but Tiger is encouraged he can return early in 2016.”

Dr. Cohn Comments

Here’s the deal with Tiger Woods. At this stage in his career, the only thing on his mind is chasing Jack Nicklaus on the career major’s list. Jack finished with 18, and Tiger currently sits at 14.

Tiger said he hopes to return to competitive golf by early 2016, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t care about the Sony Open of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods wants to be back and healthy for The Masters, golf’s first major in 2016, which takes place in April. Obviously Tiger would like to get some rounds in before April, but I don’t expect to see him playing in minor tournaments in January or even early February. He’s always stuck to his schedule, and I believe his ultimate goal is to have his body and his short game in their best form at Augusta National.

That’s easier said than done, however. Tiger Woods will turn 40 in December, and unlike a fine wine, athletes don’t typically get better with age. Tiger has been playing golf professionally for more than half of his life, and although it’s less physical than football, it still takes a big toll on your body. What’s more, the smallest imperfections in your body can cause you to hit the ball a long distance from where you’re aiming, so pain and discomfort is less than ideal for an athlete who depends on precision. When you consider his age, his health and the formidable foes he has in young players like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith and Jason Day, I think it will be incredibly difficult for Tiger to win one more major, let alone catch Jack.

I wish him the best in his recovery, and I hope we can once again catch a glimpse of the golfer that took the world by storm back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).