Tiger Woods- The Comeback King of Lower Back Pain

It’s Back Pain Awareness Week, and the theme this year is all about golf. We couldn’t let this pass without mentioning Tiger Woods’ 2019 win at the Masters. This was an incredible comeback story following lower back pain surgery. Fortunately, not everybody needs to undergo 4 major surgeries to return to form.

Although back pain can be constant and even cause pins and needles going down the legs, surgery isn’t the only option. We are going to take a deeper look at golfers back pain and the available non-invasive treatments for it.

Read our other blog on back pain in golfers.

Discs in the rough

The spine is made up of lots of different segments which have shock absorbers between them called discs. These disc can sometimes bulge or herniate into spaces they aren’t meant to be in. If they bulge onto a nerve then they can cause irritation to that nerve. This can lead to a variety of symptoms or even no symptoms at all, a few examples being pins and needles, weakness and numbness. The nerve itself is still healthy and functioning it is just irritated by the disc. (1)

Time to scan the area?

Yes MRI scans do highlight disc bulges there’s no denying that. However, in any group of people, around 60% of them would have some type of either disc protrusion, bulge, herniation, extrusion or sequestration with or without nerve root compression. This means that not all disc bulges cause pain or nerve irritation, with some people walking around with them without even knowing.

It may be entirely possible that you have a scan, it identifies an area which doctors think is causing the pain but is in fact just a disc that was happily sitting there. Read more about understanding slipped discs here.

With all this being said yes you can have a scan but, both osteopaths and chiropractors can detect and treat disc bulges without the need for an MRI. So if I do have a scan what’s next?

I want what Tiger’s having

Tiger Woods had spinal fusion surgery. This entails taking the dysfunctional segment and fusing it to the one above or below. By removing the disc you remove any chance of herniation however, it makes the segment more immobile and more prone to fracture (2). There is also the added chance of complications due to how invasive the procedure is, so non-invasive care should always be considered first.

On second thoughts, anything else?

Common forms of treatment are pain medication whether that be paracetamol, ibuprofen or something stronger. Disc bulges can heal themselves over a long period of time (around 6 months). Drug therapy is more about dulling the pain until the disc is reabsorbed back into the spoutcome chiropractor back pain

Chiropractors are able to treat disc bulges. They will use a variety of techniques in order to help your own body to heal itself.  This helps by reducing the time spent in pain and reducing the neurological symptoms. Chiropractors can help you with non-invasive care designed to get you back on your feet quickly and safely. (3)

So although surgery was required for Tiger, not everybody’s livelihoods depends on hitting a birdie. We treat a range of golfers in clinic, from weekend players to professionals. It’s worth having a second look at all the options for your back pain before heading back out onto the green.

Ready to book your appointment with one of our practitioners? Follow the link below to schedule your appointment.


1)     Cramer, G.D. and Darby, S.A., 2017. Clinical Anatomy of the Spine, Spinal Cord, and ANS-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.

2)     Chiu, Y.C., Tsai, T.T., Yang, S.C., Chen, H.S., Kao, Y.H. and Tu, Y.K., 2016. Impact of instrumented spinal fusion on the development of vertebral compression fracture. Medicine95(17).

3)     Annen, M., Peterson, C., Leemann, S., Schmid, C., Anklin, B. and Humphreys, B.K., 2016. Comparison of outcomes in MRI confirmed lumbar disc herniation patients with and without modic changes treated with high velocity, low amplitude spinal manipulation. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics39(3), pp.200-209.

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