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Spinal Surgery a Risk for Tiger
Date:5/12/2010

edical term is "cervical radiculopathy." This condition is similar to inflammation caused by a disc problem in the back resulting in sciatica (sometimes called "lumbar radiculopathy"). For someone in their late twenties or thirties this condition is most commonly caused by damage to an intervertebral disc in the neck. This kind of damage may appear in an MRI imaging study as a change in the shape of the disc (bulge, herniation, or protrusion), or a tear in the disc capsule, or dehydration of the disc contents (degenerative disc). One or more discs may be involved. These kinds of disc problems can occur without a specified incident or injury; or they may be associated with chronic or acute injury to the disc. Abnormal MRI findings, including all of the above, can be asymptomatic. In other words people often have disc bulges, herniations, or protrusions without having any symptoms. But an abnormal MRI may help localize the source of the trouble. Pain or tingling in the fingers of one hand combined with neck pain suggests that one or more of the lower spinal nerve roots in the neck are involved (C6, 7, or 8).

Treatment options

Treatment for this type of condition generally begins with oral anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and physical therapy, such as massage and hydrotherapy, if tolerated. If the symptoms persist then injections of anti-inflammatories, such as cortisone or anti-TNF molecules can be considered. TNF is a protein that is released by damaged discs and causes pain. The traditional anti-inflammatory has been cortisone, but evidence suggests that off-label injection of a specific anti-TNF molecule is a new option. Local injections of anti-TNF molecules have been reported to produce rapid relief of disc-related pain.

The most invasive option is spinal surgery, which may be necessary in some cases if less invasive methods fail to produce adequate relief of symptoms.

Is Tiger's career threatened?


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