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Golf Injuries

What are Golf Injuries?

Golf is often considered a low-risk sport, and it is considered a unique sport in that players are not limited by age. The development of injuries, essentially from overuse, have been associated with young golfers, often secondary to an inadequate technique.

The injuries can appear at any point of the game, usually due to an abnormal movement while players are swinging, or from striking the ground, stone, or root.

Types of Golf Injuries

There are two types of injuries commonly seen in golf players. The clinical presentation of acute injuries is sudden after a traumatic movement, like an errant golf swing or hard contact with the ground.

Overuse injuries can be subacute or chronic. Subacute presentation is more common due to continuous use or overuse. The main issue initiating these injuries is the backward motion of the arms, back, and shoulders during a golf swing. This may then take the swing out of plane causing stressful compensatory motions as well as gross mishits.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Golf Injuries

The clinical presentation of golf injuries is going to be related to the mechanism of injury and the type of injury.

The most common injuries include strains, medial epicondylitis and tennis elbow, wrist, finger,  and hand sprains. Wrist sprains or ligament injuries are characterized by pain and a swollen wrist. This pathology typically occurs in the leading hand. The sprain is usually accompanied by functional inability with impairment function. Hard hitters will also jeopardize their non-dominant fingers and wrists in mishits.

Medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, is considered a  tendinous overload injury that produces micro-tearing of the cartilage tissue of the non-dominant elbow. The pain is actually produced by the resisted flexion of the wrist, and it is usually accompanied by a sensation of weakness. Sometimes it is accompanied by pain on the internal side of the  

Lateral Epicondylitis is known as Tennis Elbow. Pain in the affected elbow is the main characteristic that causes players to seek medical treatment. Pain from Tennis Elbow usually radiates upwards along the upper limb and downwards on the outside of the forearm. Flexibility and strength in the wrist and finger extensors may be affected.

Hammer Syndrome is defined as an injury to one of the main arteries of the hand – the ulnar. Typically, this injury produces localized pain in the palm. But sometimes the main mechanism is the disruption of the normal blood flow producing pain, numbness, cramps, and change of the hand and finger coloration.

Hook of Hamate Fracture may accompany hammer syndrome or occur independently. The symptoms are similar.

Causes of Golf Injuries

The causes of golf injuries are varied. Injuries can develop for different reasons, such as loss of flexibility, poor conditioning, excessive practice, poor swing mechanics, and ground impact forces.

The main movement related to injuries is the golf swing. This specific movement is usually divided into different components: backswing, downswing, acceleration/ball strike, and follow through. Limitations in range of motion will limit the golfer’s ability to perform the moves properly, thus leading to an increased risk of injury.

The repetitive nature of this sport is considered another common cause of injury. The golf swing requires a continuous and repetitive, movement of the neck, shoulders, spine, elbow, wrist, hips, knees, and ankles. Over time, this movement may fatigue and have a negative impact on the upper extremities without proper conditioning.

Excessive use of the wrist, while the golfer is doing the swing, can lead to nondominant tennis elbow or dominant golfer’s elbow. Wrist conditions include tendonitis and sprain of the distal radioulnar joint, extensor carpi ulnaris and subsheath tears. Carpal bossing issues may arise.

The type of shaft material in a golf club needs to be tailored to the golfer. If the material is too hard or too heavy the golfer needs to overuse other parts of the body to achieve the proper movement, further contributing to overuse injuries.

Treatment Options

The initial treatment of an acute injury consists of rest, ice, immobilization and the safe use of anti-inflammatory medications. Some patients may need a cortisone injection to reduce the pain of the affected area.

Tendonitis and strains can be improved with physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Fractures usually improve after a certain period of rest and immobilization. Severe ligament tears and fractures may require surgical intervention.

Surgical treatment should be considered in cases of high grade partial tears and complete tendon ruptures. In any case of a golfer experiencing an injury, it is key that they are seen by a skilled orthopedic hand surgeon to reduce the possibility of long-term injury.

Preventing Golf Injuries

To avoid golf injuries at any age level, it is important to develop a solid, reproducible swing technique. An inadequate swing technique will cause an increased rate of injury due to the excessive stress placed on the body.

Hand, wrist and elbow injuries are very common for golfers as a result of an inadequate golf swing. Golf injuries also can result from poor technique, overuse or a single direct trauma.

There are many different ways to reduce the possibility of development of injury while golfing, such as proper warm-ups and stretching, and adequate conditioning and strengthening of the muscles from the ground up.

All of these measures will improve the swing mechanics with a positive impact in reducing the likelihood of an injury.

If You Believe You Have a Golf Injury, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People who have been hurt while playing golf should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.

If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis.

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