Apr 28, 2021

What Are the Most Common Golf Injuries?

If you play golf and have any pain in your back, neck, elbows or shoulders, get in touch with the expert team of sports medicine professionals at Capital Orthopaedics.

If you are a regular golf player, it’s highly likely that you have suffered some pain or discomfort from it at some point. While it’s not a high-impact sport, golf does put a great deal of strain through the upper part of your body – particularly your lower back and shoulders. Elbows, wrists, too, typically get injured in golf.

Very few non-professional golfers actually warm up or stretch before or after a round of golf – and many do not have regular instruction incorrect form as they perform a swing. Add to that the fact that the majority of recreational golf players are over the age of 40, and you get a fair number of injuries and conditions that need medical attention.

Most Common Golf Injuries

The good news is that most golfing injuries can be treated non-surgically – but an early diagnosis is key to ensuring an effective, minimally invasive treatment.

If you play golf and have any pain in your back, neck, elbows or shoulders, get in touch with the expert team of sports medicine professionals at Capital Orthopaedics.

For a fast diagnosis and highly effective treatment of golf injuries, click here.

What Causes Golf Injuries?

Any repetitive action can result in musculoskeletal injuries over time. This is a particular problem if you are not used to warming up, stretching or building muscle to counteract overuse injuries.

The forceful rotation and impact of swinging a golf club can also lead to sprained wrists, elbow injuries and traumatic injuries – for example, if there is sudden resistance from sand in a bunker or you hit a tree root. Tendons, ligaments, nerves and other soft tissue in your joints can get damaged.

Modern techniques of creating greater power in the golf swing involve keeping the hips more static, rather than keeping them more aligned with the shoulders. This type of stance increases the rotational force in the lower back and shoulders, creating a greater chance of injury.

What are the Most Common Types of Golfer’s Injuries?

Back Pain

The one-sided, forceful rotational action of a golf swing puts great strain on your lower back. Many lumbar conditions can be resolved quickly and easily with rest and physiotherapy, but if left untreated, can lead to more serious conditions.

Common causes of lower back pain in golfers include:

  • Muscle strain or ligament sprain: the muscles ligaments of your back are stretched, leading to pain, inflammation and muscle spasms.
  • Disc injuries: if you have any damage to the discs that separate the vertebrae of your spine, a golf swing is likely to exacerbate the condition. Disc degeneration, herniated or ruptured discs are all vulnerable to the repeated motion of a golf swing.
  • Arthritis: the degeneration of cartilage and bone in the joints of your lower back can be caused by repetitive actions in golf, leading to symptoms of pain and stiffness.
  • Bone fracture: stress fractures in your spine can also occur as a result of repeated rotational movements, leading to dull pain and a feeling of instability.

Shoulder Pain

The golf swing is a surprisingly complex and powerful rotational movement – and the shoulders take the brunt of the effort.

While many shoulder conditions have similar symptoms – pain, inflammation and weakness – it is really important to get the correct diagnosis in order to treat your shoulder pain effectively.

Common shoulder conditions in golfers include:

  • Subacromial impingement: inflammation and impingement of the rotator cuff tendons that support and mobilise your shoulder joint.
  • AC joint pain: caused by an injury to the joint at the top of your shoulder.
  • Rotator cuff tears: the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint can get stretched or damaged by the repetitive movement of a golf swing.
  • SLAP tear: the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint (labrum) can get torn as a result of the over-rotation of a golf swing.
  • Arthritis: overuse of any joint can wear away the smooth cartilage coating the bones. The exposed rough bone surfaces cause friction in the joint and eventually lead to the formation of bone spurs, misalignment and soft tissue damage in your shoulder.
  • Instability: any soft tissue or bony injury can cause the bones of the joint to subluxate or dislocate.

Elbow Tendonitis

The tendons that attach your forearm muscles to the elbow joint can get stretched, pinched, or torn as a result of overuse. The elbow tendons can be stressed by the way you hold your club (with an overly bent elbow or wrist, for example), or simply through overuse. Elbow tendons can also be damaged by the club striking the ground or a solid object.

Common injuries include:

  • Golfers Elbow: pain on the bony bump on the inside of your elbow joint. It can lead to weakness and stiffness in the joint if left untreated.
  • Tennis Elbow: lateral epicondylitis is the inflammation of the tendon on the outside of the elbow. This painful condition is as common in golfers as golfer’s elbow.

Wrist injuries

The structures of your wrist are particularly at risk of injury if you over-bend or over-extend your wrist at the point of impact. Many wrist problems are simply the result of overuse, not warming up properly or failing to build up the forearm muscles.

Common injuries include:

  • Sprain: a wrist sprain usually occurs when your golf club hits something hard such as the ground, the bunker sand or a tree root. The stretched or torn ligaments can result in pain, swelling, bruising and instability.
  • Tendonitis: the tendons of your wrist can get swollen and inflamed as a result of overuse.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: the nerves that run through your wrist bones (carpal tunnel) can get pinched as a result of swelling or structural damage in the joint. It leads to numbness and weakness in your hand and fingers.

How Can Golf Injuries Be Treated?

Most golf injuries can be effectively treated with rest and physiotherapy, followed by a careful focus on improving form to prevent re-injury. The most important thing is to get a careful diagnosis of any ongoing pain, as many minor musculoskeletal conditions can develop into more severe orthopaedic conditions if left untreated.

The sports medicine team at Capital Orthopaedics comprises highly experienced orthopaedic surgeons, in-house radiologists and physiotherapists. Our background in treating professional athletes means we are focused on diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries in the shortest time possible, with the best chance of long-term resilience against further injuries.

If you have any golf-related injuries, pain or musculoskeletal problems, get in touch with Capital Orthopaedics here.

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