Repetitive injuries are quite common in golf and usually occur in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments and tendons) of the lower back, shoulders, hands and wrists. Many injuries can be avoided with proper conditioning and by improving your swing. Some of the major golf injuries are:
Low back injuries
These may result from a sudden force applied to the ligaments and muscles of the lower back. Poor conditioning, lack of flexibility and overuse can lead to injury and low back pain. An injury of this type can be treated with rest and light activity including stretching and strengthening exercises along with physiotherapy treatment which may include soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation and many other forms of treatment techniques. Your physiotherapist can perform a proper assessment, then set up a programme designed especially for you to help you return to golf.
Torn rotator cuff
The rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and their tendons that help to stabilise the shoulder. A torn rotator cuff is a severe golf injury and can seriously limit shoulder movement and strength. Other symptoms are shoulder pain, which is worse at night, and sometimes swelling. Raising the arm overhead becomes difficult. A torn rotator cuff requires surgery, followed by physiotherapy rehabilitation.
Shoulder tendinopathy, bursitis and impingement
These are golf injuries that may result from overuse. Tendinopathy is inflammation of a tendon while bursitis is inflammation of the bursa – the fluid-filled sacs between the tendons and bones. A shoulder tendinopathy or bursitis can lead to impingement syndrome as the bursae and tendons become inflamed and swollen which limits the space in the shoulder joint and restricts movement. Repetitive overhead arm motions may irritate the muscles, tendons and tissues over time leading to inflammation and impingement.
Symptoms of this condition are slow onset of pain, and shoulder or upper arm pain at night when lying on the affected side. Pain may also be felt with abduction of the arm (moving the arm out to the side) or raising the arm overhead. Shoulder pain at the front or the side is also common and may radiate down to the elbow and forearm. Treatment involves RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and the use of anti-inflammatory medications in conjunction with physiotherapy to help return to golf.
This is an overuse injury often experienced by golfers as a result of small tears occurring in the tendons of the forearm. Elbow pain occurs on the inside of the elbow as opposed to tennis elbow where pain occurs on the outside. Pain increases when flexing (curling) the wrist and when grasping objects. Treatment should begin with the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to decrease pain, swelling and inflammation. Your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to stretch and strengthen the flexor muscles. Sometimes a wrist splint or strapping of the forearm may also prove helpful. Recurrence of this injury is quite common, if full healing has not occurred or if poor technique continues; therefore you may be advised not to return to golf until you have made a full recovery and been taught a more correct swing technique that is less stressful to the deep flexor tendons of the wrist.
Many golf injuries can be avoided with proper conditioning, warm up and cool down before and after the game. If you have suffered any type of golf injury or think you may lack conditioning, come in and see us for an assessment. We can help.