Frank Noojin III, MD
Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center
Golfing injuries are common and can be disabling, particularly for the avid golfer. Let’s go over some things you can do to reduce the risk of injury or aggravation of previous orthopedic problems while playing golf.
First, one of the most common conditions is low back pain. Core strengthening, back flexibility, hamstring stretching and adequate warm up can help reduce injury. Heavy lifting or torque created on the lumbar spine during the swing can aggravate osteoarthritis or mechanical low back pain. Come from the inside on the swing and swing easy!
The second most common source of pain involves the shoulder. Injuries to the rotator cuff commonly occur, whether it’s tendinitis or actually tearing the rotator cuff. Proper technique and, in some cases, a rotator cuff rehabilitation program can help reduce and treat shoulder pain from rotator cuff tendinitis. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder also can be a problem, but many people actually do well with the shorter backswing.
Thirdly, arthritis of the knee or tearing the meniscus cartilages are two very frequent sources of pain. Playing golf involves a lot of walking or twisting of the knees, which can aggravate underlying arthritis or meniscus tears. Poor swing technique, or even bad luck, can result in acute tearing and pain from meniscus injury. Certain braces can alleviate pain during golfing for osteoarthritis of the knee. Also, anti-inflammatory medicine and occasional Cortisone injections in appropriate cases can be helpful.
Golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is another common injury. For a right-handed golfer this would involve the inside of the right elbow resulting in pain with hitting or pain with lifting and gripping. To avoid this problem, stretch the wrist and forearm with your elbow fully extended and stretched, take time for an adequate warm up, and avoid overuse. If this condition does develop, an elbow strap and a rehabilitation program with an occasional Cortisone injection can be helpful.
Tendinitis of the wrist is also common and can be prevented by proper technique and avoidance of overuse.
Most types of golfing injuries can be reduced by adequate warm up, use of anti-inflammatory medications, stretching, swinging easily, maintenance of conditioning and core strength, proper technique, and moist heat for stiffness. Good luck golfing!
The Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center sports medicine team serves as the official team physicians for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, the Columbia Fireflies and dozens of other professional, college, high school, middle school and recreational teams throughout South Carolina.
In addition, we supervise one of the largest athletic trainer outreach programs in South Carolina. Our physicians and a team of athletic trainers serve 34 high schools and seven colleges on the sidelines to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries.
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