Golfing After Spinal Fusion Back Surgery
ABC 7 CHICAGO — How long should you stay off the greens after back surgery?
Between 30 and 50 percent of all golfers will struggle with back and neck pain. Many of them avoid surgery because they’re afraid their performance will suffer. But, golfers may be able to get back into the swing of things in no time at all.
This is the first time Mike Rude has swung a golf club in two years! Never-ending low back pain kept him from the sport he loves.
“Living with constant pain, you know, it wears on you, and it tires you out,” Mike said.
But last year, Mike had spinal fusion to relieve the pain … and now he’s back!
“I wasn’t even thinking about my lower back at all,” he said.
Like Mike, many golfers wonder when – or if – they can safely return to the sport after surgery.
“We see so many patients that have back problems and neck problems and there’s no consensus as far as when they can return back to play,” said Kern Singh, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
A recent study at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush found 65 percent of golfers were able to play within a year of having lower back spine fusion. Seventy-five percent were playing the same amount of golf as before surgery.
“The fact that they can do it without pain and how far they can hit the ball, it’s really incredible,” said Joe Estes, a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy.
Now researchers are conducting another study to determine exactly when golfers can return to play. They’re using 3D motion analysis to evaluate a golfer’s game before and after surgery.
“So how their golf club moves, how fast it moves, how strong their trunk is, how long their torso and leg strength are, and then we compare and see how long it takes for them to get back to baseline if not better,” Singh said.
At A Glance
Dr. Kern Singh
- Minimally invasive and endoscopic spine surgeon
- Inventor and surgeon innovator with multiple patents in spinal surgery and instrumentation
- Author of more than 10 textbooks in minimally invasive spinal surgery
- Learn more