This week, Jack Nicklaus spoke up about an experimental treatment he underwent in Germany in 2016 in an effort to soothe his lifelong back pain. In a conversation with CNN, the Golden Bear shared details of the stem cell therapy he believes helped to ease the pain that has long plagued him, especially when playing golf.
Nicklaus has struggled with back pain since he was a teenager. In 2016, he flew to Munich to meet with a doctor who specializes in cutting edge stem cell therapies and who claimed that his treatments could lessen inflammation. Dr. Eckherd Alt performed the procedure on Nicklaus in February 2016, which involves abdominal liposuction and then a series of injections at various points along the spine. Nicklaus said that his pain had “subsided” after a few months. He plans to undergo another treatment this week on his shoulder, which will cost about $10,000. “I’m not a doctor, but I think that stem cell is going to change… the direction of orthopedics, totally,” Nicklaus said.
While it’s still unclear how effective stem cell treatments are for back pain and injuries, even the idea of a cure is enough of a lure for someone like Nicklaus and the thousands of golfers like him who suffer from chronic back pain. For many of them, the drive to seek relief from pain is coupled with an even stronger desire to get back to playing the game they love. The 78-year-old Nicklaus doesn’t plan to quit swinging a club anytime soon. “Golf is a game of a lifetime,” he said. “I hope to play for my lifetime.”