About 25 million people in America played golf in 2020. Golf is one of the more popular sports because it can be played by so many people, at any time of the year, at any age, any skill level and any fitness level.
As with every sport, however, you can sustain injuries. Most of the injuries from golf happen due to overuse of joints, such as shoulder or elbow pain after practicing your swing for hours without a significant break.
Let’s take a look at four of the most common injuries golfers experience, how to treat and prevent them, and where you can go here in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda for outstanding physical therapy, orthopedic care, and interventional pain management.
#1: Back Injury and Back Pain
The most prevalent injury in golf is a herniated or bulging disc. A spinal disc is a soft, fluid-filled shock absorber between each set of two vertebrae – and the twisting-torso motion of a golf swing places enormous pressure on the discs. If a disc moves out of place, the disc can push against nerves in the spine and cause pain.
Treatment of a herniated or slipped disc can be conservative or surgical. Conservative therapies include rest, ice therapy, heat therapy, and treating the pain with anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxers if necessary. Other traditional treatments include physical therapy to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, supporting the core of the body.
Minimally invasive but nonsurgical treatments which are popular in alleviating back pain include injection-based nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and facet-joint injections in the spine. For persistent back pain that is not successfully relieved with conservative treatments, your doctor may prescribe surgery.
Prevention of this type of injury involves the following:
- Adjust your posture and golf swing per your physical therapist’s recommendations.
- Warm up for 10 minutes before play with stretching or a brisk walk. Do the same to cool down your muscles gradually when you are done playing for the day.
- Engage in strengthening exercises for your back and abdominal muscles. This strengthening helps the core muscles, which help to maintain alignment of the spine while playing golf.
- Wear proper footwear, because your shoes do play a key part in the alignment of the spine. Wearing shoes with small cleats on the bottom is recommended, as long cleats grab the turf more and increase pressure on your joints and back – and wearing no cleats at all does not provide the gripping support your back and legs need when walking up and down hills on a golf course.
#2: Golfer’s Elbow
The elbow and wrist take all the downward force during the acceleration and follow-through of the golf swing. These repetitive motions can cause tendonitis (tendon inflammation) of the extensor tendons in the elbow. Whereas tennis elbow refers to tendonitis which occurs in the outer aspect of the elbow on the dominant arm, golfer’s elbow affects the inner aspect of the elbow of the non-dominant arm.
Treatment includes rest, ice therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications, with rest as the primary noninvasive treatment for golfer’s elbow. Detachment of the tendon from the bone will necessitate surgery, and your orthopedic doctor can determine if this is the injury that is causing your arm pain and weakness.
Prevention of golfer’s elbow involves adjusting your grip and posture during your swing. Also, supporting the elbow tendons with an arm brace during play could help in preventing this injury.
#3: Shoulder and Rotator Cuff Injuries
Your shoulder joint consists of part of the collarbone, the upper arm bone (humerus), and all of the tendons and muscles needed to keep the shoulder joint in place and movable. Injuries to the four muscles supporting the shoulder joint, otherwise known as the rotator cuff, are related to the swing and the club’s impact with the ball or the ground.
Treatment usually involves rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery may be necessary for severe tears in the rotator cuff.
You can prevent these injuries by adjusting your swing to refrain from over swinging, and proper positioning of the arms during the swing.
#4: Knee Injuries and Knee Pain
Injuries to the knee while playing golf tend to include:
- Tears to one or more ligaments that hold the thighbone (femur) and/or the lower leg bones (fibula and tibia) together in the knee joint
- Tears of a meniscus (moon-shaped cartilage between the knee bones – each knee has two menisci)
- Degeneration of the cartilage of the knee, which causes the bones to grate against each other and cause arthritis pain
Treatment can be conservative for injuries such as mild arthritis or minor tears in a ligament or meniscus. However, for tears of the whole tendon or a major tear in a meniscus, surgery is recommended.
Changing the position of your feet when striking the ball minimizes your chance of developing this type of injury. This involves placing the lead foot, which is the left foot for right-handed players (and the right foot for left-handed players), at a 30-degree angle position as it relates to the ball. In contrast, if you point your lead foot towards the line of the ball, you increase the pressure on your knee, leading to damage.
Sports Medicine Treatments in Port Charlotte, Florida
The physicians and staff at the Advanced Orthopedic Center treat all types of sports-related injuries and other types of joint pain, from arthritis to golfer’s elbow. Our medical team at the Advanced Orthopedic Center can diagnose your problem and recommend the treatment you need, whether it’s conservative treatments or minimally invasive surgery.
If you have any questions about sports medicine, including golf fitness, schedule your appointment for a consultation and evaluation with one of our outstanding orthopedists. Call our friendly staff at Advanced Orthopedic Center today at (941) 629-6262 or 941-639-6699, or you can use our convenient online request form. Advanced Orthopedic Center wants to get to the root of your pain and have you back on the course in no time.