Golf fans can put their sirens away. Less than a week after one of Tiger Woods’s friends put golf fans on high alert, noting that the 14-time major champion was eyeing a return to the U.S. Open, news broke that Woods underwent yet another surgery on his back. He is expected to be out at least six months.
This is now at least the fourth surgery the 41-year-old has had performed on his back. Woods previously underwent two microdisectomies to relieve pressure on a pinched nerve, first in March 2014 and then again in September 2015. In October 2015, he said he had an additional, unspecified procedure done as a follow-up.
The pain, however, caused by a “severely narrowed” lower-back disc that led to sciatica, a nerve condition that causes pain in the lower back and through the legs, never fully went away.
“Conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medications, limiting activities and injections, failed as a permanent solution,” said a statement posted to Woods’s website. This led to Woods opting for another surgery called an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, during which Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute removed the damaged disc to allow two other vertebrae to essentially fuse together to heal as one solid bone.
“If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur,” Guyer said in the statement that deemed the surgery “successful.”
“Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion,” Guyer added.
Woods, meanwhile, who has not played competitively since Feb. 3 when he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic because of his back, said on Thursday that his latest operation”went well.”
“I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said on his website. “When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long.”
“I would like to thank all the fans for staying in touch and their kind wishes,” Woods added. “The support I have received has never waned, and it really helps.”