Many people are surprised to learn how many injuries occur from playing golf, but golf-related injuries to the upper extremities are fairly common. These injuries can occur either due to overuse (cumulative) or due to sudden impact (acute). Our orthopedic surgeons and specialists, athletic trainers and physical and occupational therapists at Houston Methodist offer world-class diagnoses and treatments to help everyone from student athletes to weekend warriors and elite professionals overcome their injury and get back on the course.

Common Golf-Related Injuries
Because of the nature of golfing, the swinging rotation makes golfers especially prone to shoulder injuries. Below are some of the areas of the body and the specific injuries a golfer may encounter:

  • Back:
    • Low back pain from the rotational stress in your swing
  • Shoulder:
    • Bursitis
    • Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis (pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint that makes it difficult to move the arm)
    • Impingement syndrome (inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff)
    • Rotator cuff tears
    • Rotator cuff tendonitis
    • Shoulder instability (a loosening of the structures that keep the ball of the shoulder in the socket)
    • Shoulder separation
    • Tendonitis
  • Elbow:
    • Bursitis
    • Golfer's elbow (inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, also called the medial epicondylitis)
    • Tennis elbow (inflammation on the outside of the elbow, also called the lateral epicondylitis)
  • Hand or wrist:
    • Finger fractures
    • Trigger finger (pain or "snapping" in the tendons of the fingers)
    • Wrist sprains
    • Wrist tendonitis

Golf Safety and Injury Prevention Tips
The most effective way to prevent golf-related injuries is to perform some simple stretches before each round.

  • Start with some neck and shoulder rolls to loosen the upper torso. 
  • Stretch the shoulders by holding a golf club at both ends and raise it over your head; then grab it at both ends behind your back to stretch the front of the shoulder joints. To stretch the back of the shoulder, grab the opposite elbow and pull the arm across your body until you feel a stretch.
  • Do some side bends and trunk rotations to limber up the lower back.
  • Practice your swing, with a focus on proper technique, before you start hitting golf balls.
  • While recovering from an injury, your doctor will often let you chip and putt, which places less stress on the joints — and may also help you improve your score. As your recovery progresses, start with the shortest clubs (wedges) and gradually work your way up to using the longer clubs (drivers) with a full swing.

Trust our team of sports injury specialists at Houston Methodist to remove you from the injured list and provide you with the knowledge to help prevent future injuries.