Study Shows Patients Maintain Or Improve Golf Handicap After Spinal Fusion

A study by Dr. Frank Phillips, co-director of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush provides good news for golfers needing spinal fusion surgery. The study was conducted over four years. Qualified patients had one or two lumbar spinal fusions. 91 percent of patients were recreational golfers while 50 percent claimed golf as the primary reason for surgery. The results show that the majority or spinal fusion patients returned to play golf as well or better than before surgery.

The study found these results:

  • 65 percent of golfers whom Dr. Phillips operated on returned to play within a year after lumbar spine fusion surgery.
  • Within 12 months of surgery, 75 percent of patients returned to play the same amount of golf as before the operation
  • 80 percent of golfers returned to or improved their handicap.
  • Data suggested that patients with minimally invasive surgeries returned to golf faster than those with traditional open surgery.

During a spinal fusion, two vertebrae are joined together using a bone graft. Unlike traditional open surgery which requires a large incision and cutting of muscles, minimally invasive surgery allows for smaller incisions with less muscle damage. These techniques result in less blood loss therefore patients are able to return quicker to normal activities such as golf.