Optimism for Tiger return, says spinal surgeon

Sat Sep 19, 2015 8:39pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has good reason to be optimistic about resolving a nagging back injury that led him to undergo a second back surgery this past week, a leading spinal surgeon told Reuters on Saturday.

Woods, 39, said on his website on Friday that he had undergone a second microdiscectomy surgery similar to one he had on his back in March 2014 and was scuttling the rest of his 2015 playing plans with a hope to return to the links in early 2016.

"Return to play for an elite athlete is around 90 percent, that they can return to their elite level of competition," Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"The prognosis is very good."

Hecht said that in general the risk of recurrence of a herniated disc, which had initially led to a pinched nerve for Woods, was five to 10 percent for anybody having a microdiscectomy.

Hecht, who works with the New York Jets in the National Football League (NFL) and sits on the NFL brain and spine committee, likened a herniated disc to a squished jelly doughnut.

The discs that sit in between the vertebrae that run from the base of the skull all they way down to the pelvis, serve as shock absorbers, he explained.

When the outer part of the disc tears or forms a tiny hole, the gelatinous material inside "hernia out, almost like jelly coming out of a jelly doughnut," Hecht said.   Continued...

Aug 15, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the continuation of the second round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports