Tiger Woods undergoes fourth back surgery to alleviate pain

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods has undergone a fourth back surgery to "alleviate pain in his back and leg."
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 | 3:22 p.m.

The news on the health front hasn't been good for Tiger Woods for a long time.

The disappointing news continued on Thursday when Woods revealed via his website, www.tigerwoods.com, that he has undergone a fourth back surgery to "alleviate pain in his back and leg."

RELATED: A history of Tiger Woods injuries and comebacks 

This was just two days after he hit a couple of balls at the site of his first public course design in Missouri at the Big Cedar Lodge.

Here's the complete statement from www.TigerWoods.com:

Tiger Woods announced today that he has undergone successful back surgery to alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg.

"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods said. "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."

Due to previous herniations and three surgeries, Woods' bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain. Conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medications, limiting activities and injections, failed as a permanent solution, and Woods opted to have surgery. The procedure was a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1. The surgery entailed removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels. This allows the one vertebrae to heal to the other. The goal is to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to give the nerve the best chance of healing.

The operation was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute.

"After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed," Guyer said. "Once that's accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf.

"If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur. Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion," Guyer added.

Woods will now rest for several weeks, then begin therapy and treatment. While each procedure and case is unique, patients typically return to full activity in about six months.

"I would like to thank all the fans for staying in touch and their kind wishes," Woods said. "The support I have received has never waned, and it really helps."

Woods made one start on the PGA Tour this season, missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open -- his first official PGA Tour event since the 2015 Wyndham Championship, where he tied for 10th.

Woods played the next week in Dubai, but withdrew after experiencing back spasms while at dinner following the first round.  

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.