While golf may seem like a relatively low impact sport — players aren’t subject to the bone-rattling hits of football or constantly racing up and down the court like in basketball — it can still have an impact on your body. The regular, repeated motion of a golf swing puts muscles throughout your entire body into action, as not only do your arms drive the club, but also your back twists and your legs pivot. Not only can that kind of sudden twisting motion be a trigger for an injury like a slipped disc; if you already experience chronic back pain, your golf game is likely to suffer. Even worse, you might be worried that treating your pain might keep you off the links for good.
Here’s good news: Recent research from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) looking at the impact of minimally invasive spine surgery on golfers found that the majority of patients were able to maintain or improve their handicap after undergoing a minimally invasive fusion procedure. Over a two-year period, patients at MOR completed questionnaires before and after surgery, and those who golfed were asked more specific questions about their relationship to the sport prior to and following their fusions.
MOR found that the majority of patients that underwent one- or two-level minimally invasive spinal fusions were able to return to the sport. A year after their procedures, 65% were practicing again and 52% were back on the course. Especially notable for golfers: A full 80% of the patients who returned to golf maintained or improved their handicap following minimally invasive fusion. The results weren’t perfect for everybody. Obviously, some did not return to playing golf, and of those who did, some felt that their driving distance went down (50%), they were less consistent (23%), or that they were less accurate (9%).
That said, the overall picture from the MOR research is quite positive (especially since for 50% of the patients, inability to play golf was part of what led them to surgery!). Both range of motion and the ability to return to normal activities are often concerns for patients who are facing the possibility of a lumbar fusion procedure. The MOR data indicates that in many cases, patients who have a one- or two-level minimally invasive spinal fusion won’t have to give up a favorite pastime.
Is back pain affecting your golf game? A proper diagnosis is the first step in getting your spinal health up to par. Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 206-496-0630 to learn more about the treatment options we offer that could help get you back on the greens.