30 September 2019
Gilly Griffith, 39, only started playing golf three years ago when her dad moved back to England from South Africa.
“I wanted to reconnect with him and thought if I got him on the golf course, then it would be four hours of me and him - we could catch up, chat and get to know one another again.”
That initial bonding over golf turned into a passion and Gilly admits she is now “addicted”.
“I have completely immersed myself in golf – I play every Saturday and Sunday when I don’t have Sky Sport Euro tour commitments.”
So, when she suffered a back injury, she couldn’t imagine not playing and simply carried on.
An all-round active person, Gilly had been working out in the gym when she felt something pull in her back as she lifted the track bar.
“I still carried on with my work-out but by the end of that week my back was in agony. I believe golf was the precursor to that injury as there are lots of bending and twisting movements – a big part of the power in golf comes from the rotation.
“I carried on trying to play golf even though I was in pain as I would have been so miserable if I couldn’t.” And she admits she is not alone, “I haven’t been on a golf course yet, chatting with other golfers and not heard a 'back story' – it affects lots of golfers, but like me they carry on.”
However, the sciatica became so painful she started having numbness in her toes and feet and a feeling like 'insects were running up and down' her legs.
“At one point I was in so much pain, I started to think I wouldn’t be able to play golf again. I was in a dark place - I felt like I’d had my wings clipped.”
Gilly also noticed that her feet became very cold. The pain was worse in the morning after a night’s sleep and she struggled to get out of a chair, having to use her arms to pull herself up to standing.
Luckily, she was able to continue working during the week as a PA to a London-based asset management company because it had invested in electronic stand-up desks, enabling her to adjust the height of her working position.
Gilly’s GP referred her for an MRI scan which showed she had a prolapsed disc pinching the sciatic nerve and she was given a steroid nerve injection for pain relief.
“I felt like a new person and was able to continue playing golf. I also started including plenty of core exercises into my work-outs to support my back.” Four months later however, she woke up in terrible back pain again and had to have a second steroid injection.
Again, the pain relief was short-lived and so she consulted Mr Inaparthy who carried out a targeted steroid injection under anaesthesia.
Since then Gilly has been playing golf but has noticed a change in her golf stance.
“You are supposed to rotate, but I can’t as I am frightened of getting back pain. People looking at my Instagram photos often tell me I have changed my swing.”
But she is now making sure she warms up before every game and does plenty of stretches.
“On TV you don’t see the professional golfers warming up, but they do that before they come out onto the course and they also do plenty of Pilates and yoga between matches,” she explains.
For now, she no longer has sciatica, but is still having investigations at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital as she has begun to have pain in her lower back and buttocks. Despite medical advice, Gilly says she can’t stop playing golf and believes the game ironically is helping her through her injury.
“The four to five mile walk each time helps ease my back and the concentration, enjoyment and competitiveness take my mind off the pain.”
The next step in her treatment will be to rule out any spinal pathology and to get her back pain under control to ensure Gilly can continue to play the game she loves - pain free.
If you wish to book a consultation with Mr Praveen Inaparthy, please call on 01293 778 906 to find out more.