Published on: 24 Nov '16Published in: Sports health
Spinal fusion surgery is being increasingly performed, yet few studies have focused on return to recreational sports after lumbar fusion and none have specifically analyzed return to golf.Most golfers successfully return to sport after lumbar fusion surgery.Case series.Level 4.All patients who underwent 1- or 2-level primary lumbar fusion surgery for degenerative pathologies performed by a single surgeon between January 2008 and October 2012 and had at least 1-year follow-up were included. Patients completed a specifically designed golf survey. Surveys were mailed, given during follow-up clinic, or answered during telephone contact.A total of 353 patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, with 200 responses (57%) to the questionnaire producing 34 golfers. The average age of golfers was 57 years (range, 32-79 years). In 79% of golfers, preoperative back and/or leg pain significantly affected their ability to play golf. Within 1 year from surgery, 65% of patients returned to practice and 52% returned to course play. Only 29% of patients stated that continued back/leg pain limited their play. Twenty-five patients (77%) were able to play the same amount of golf or more than before fusion surgery. Of those providing handicaps, 12 (80%) reported the same or an improved handicap.More than 50% of golfers return to on-course play within 1 year of lumbar fusion surgery. The majority of golfers can return to preoperative levels in terms of performance (handicap) and frequency of play.This investigation offers insight into when golfers return to sport after lumbar fusion surgery and provides surgeons with information to set realistic expectations postoperatively.