The Wimbledon champion had been trying to manage his back issues for almost two years – he has never revealed details of his injury although he admitted feeling shooting pains running up and down his left leg – similar to sciatica.
And playing on clay, where a player has to hit a lot of high balls and twist and turn on the loose, grit surface, simply worsens the problem.
Another indicator that some neural impingement (where a disc or muscle presses on a nerve) was the root cause of his problem, relates to Andy’s rapid physical development over the last few years which would have adapted his muscle structure. And when these changes occur, working at the optimum level Andy does, the body is being pushed so much that some areas become too tight and result in some neural impingement.
What surgery did Andy have?
The decision to undergo spinal surgery would not have been taken lightly and all treatment options explored before making that decision. His team devised a training programme to strengthen the site of the injury which allowed him to complete the grass court season but as soon as he started to play on clay, the old issues returned.
So it is believed he underwent a micro discectomy in order to release the pressure on that sciatic nerve. In the diagram below you can see the pressure a herniated disc is placing on the nerve – it’s painful.
What is a micro discectomy?
It is the removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord, thereby allowing the nerve to heal, and is an operation that is usually more effective at treating leg pain than back pain.
A micro discectomy is typically performed for a herniated lumbar disc and involves keyhole surgery via a one-inch incision in the midline of the lower back, with the procedure itself performed with an instrument or laser.
The nerve can take weeks or months to heal. However, patients usually feel relief from leg pain almost immediately.
So will he retain his Wimbledon title?
That’s the million dollar question! To date his recovery looks good albeit Andy has slipped down the world rankings – yet is this surprising given the surgery he has been through. And with this problem, unfortunately symptoms can re-occur.
Fair to say the grass courts will suit him better and he’ll have his medical teams to fully support him. All we can do is watch and wait…
For more information regarding lower back injuries and pain, please click on below: http://www.qbeeurope.com/rehabilitation/injuries/Back.asp