Golf is a sport enjoyed by an estimated 60 million people around the world. But love of the game may cost more than green fees when a day on the links ends up in an injury.

Let’s look at some of the most common golf injuries and what you can do to prevent them.

The most common golf injuries

Upper extremity injuries commonly occur in golfers at all skill levels. The most common golf-related injuries involving the upper extremities include:

  • Golfer’s elbow/medial epicondylitis – a condition that involves pain on the inside (medial side) of the elbow, caused by damage to tendons (strong tissue that connects muscle and bone) that allow the wrist to bend toward the palm.
  • Wrist and hand tendonitis – inflammation of the tendons in the wrist and hand.
  • Trigger finger – a condition in which a finger gets stuck in a bent position due to inflammation in the tendons that flex fingers.
  • Blood vessel injuries – a condition known as Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome is an injury to the main artery in the hand and can cause pain, discoloration and numbness.
  • Wrist bone fractures – these fractures can be caused either by repetitive movement or sudden trauma.

In addition to these upper extremity injuries, injured backs or hips are also common. There are also head injuries reported due to golf balls or clubs that are mistakenly let loose during a swing. Golf cart accidents result in injuries as well. 

So, while golf may be thought of as a low-injury sport, there are quite a few injuries among both amateur and professional golfers. This article from Golf Monthly reports that among golfers, 70 percent of amateurs and 90 percent of professionals will experience a golf-related injury at least once in their lifetime.  

Causes of common golf injuries

The most common cause of injuries related to golf is overuse. An overuse injury is one that occurs due to repeated trauma to a particular area. 

Other causes for golf injuries include:

  • poor technique/swing mechanics 
  • core/upper body deconditioning (reduced strength due to a period of inactivity or following injury) 
  • not warming up before golfing

Treating golf injuries 

In most cases, golf injuries such as tendonitis may improve with treatment that includes rest, bracing, stretching, ice, and a short course of anti-inflammatories. More serious conditions such as fractures should be examined and treated by a medical professional. 

Preventing common golf injuries

The good news is that there are ways golfers can reduce their risk of injury on the greens. Many injuries may be avoided by:

  • taking professional lessons to learn proper swing mechanics and grip
  • stretching and warming up prior to golfing to help prevent tendonitis 
  • slowly increasing the duration and frequency of golfing to allow your tendons to adapt to the demand of the game 
  • allow yourself time to recover and heal after each event

When to see a doctor for a golf injury

Any ache or pain that doesn’t quickly resolve with ice application and rest should be evaluated. It is critical to see a doctor for an evaluation to help identify the problem and prevent worsening of the injury. 

If you’re experiencing a golf injury or other pain, the experts at the Lifespan Orthopedics Institute are here to help. Learn more about our team on our website.  

Joseph A. Gil, MD

Joseph A. Gil, MD

Dr. Joseph Gil is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating hand and upper extremity conditions.