Surgery will tame Tiger’s roar for four months

2014-05-11 15:00

The back surgery Tiger Woods underwent to fix a pinched muscle is so serious, it will rule the top golfer out of action for four months.

This was the candid opinion of medical expert Dr Shuaib Manjra, the former SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport chair­person and the 2008 SA Olympic team chief medical officer.

Woods, whose glorious career has been marred by injuries, has been out of the running in this year’s majors. His last major victory was the US Open in 2008, his 14th in total.

But with his current setback, he should put on hold – or forget completely – his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ enviable record of 18 majors.

Woods posted on his blog this week that he was making a slow recovery.

Manjra explained in detail the nature of the surgery required to address the golfer’s pinched nerve – a process the medical professional steadfastly believes will take time before the world’s most charismatic and controversial player is back in full swing.

“This surgery is medically called microdiscectomy, which will take three to four months to heal. What this means is that the spinal cord has nerve roots, which branch out into nerves that supply the entire body,” said Manjra.

“Between the vertebrae is a disc that is composed of gelatinous material that acts as a cushion. Over time, due to wear and tear or acute injury, sometimes a disc is damaged.”

Manjra explained that in Woods’ case, his golf swing involved a tremendous amount of twisting of the spine, thereby putting enormous pressure on the disc.

“This is exactly what has happened to Tiger. It will take time before he gets back to action.”

He said the player, who ascended to the top spot after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March last year, cannot currently go through motions which involve the twisting of his back.

Woods has missed the US Masters and was supposed to defend The Players Championship, which concludes today. He is likely to forgo the forthcoming three majors as well.

“At the moment, he only does putting and cannot chip or tee off, which require rotation,” said Manjra.

There were two options for Woods to relieve the pressure on the pinched nerve. “The first is the open surgery where the disc is removed, and the second is a minimally invasive approach that removes the offending part causing the pressure using a fine needle.”

Woods has sustained several injuries over the years, including a left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in 2002 and a left medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury in 2011. An ACL injury occurs through overstretching in the knee while an MCL involves the ligament on the inner part of the knee.

Woods has been injured so many times in his career it is feared he may never fully recover. His woes were exacerbated by intense weight training and swinging.

Canadian Graham DeLaet took a full year to recover from the surgery. It remains to be seen just how long it will take before Tiger is back on the prowl.

Tigers Woods’ injuries:

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