Golf Injuries to the Wrist and Hand

Mark Walsh PT, DPT, MS, CHT
Titleist Performance Institute Certified
Shore Orthopaedic Physical Therapy

Did you know that of all the sports the most injuries to the hand and wrist occur in golf?

Hand injuries occur in about 10% of professional and 20% in the amateur golfers. The incidence may be explained by the anatomic and mechanical complexity of the wrist and hand. Most of the injuries occur in the lead wrist and hand associated with overuse, golf swing faults and mechanics and trauma.

Overuse injuries are primarily tendonitis or tenosynovitis such as deQuervains tenosynovitis (inflammation of tendons on the thumb side of the wrist). Overuse injuries often occur in the amateur at the beginning of the golf season, when the golfer is not appropriately physically prepared to strike the golf ball. For example, as the golf season approaches it’s off to the driving range hitting a large bucket of balls one after another without appropriate warm up and rest between swings. Watch a professional warm up hitting golf balls notice, that between each swing, they stop, analyze the ball flight, divot etc. and discuss it with their caddy or coach.  The take home message is that the amateur hits too many golf balls to quickly and too often. Overuse also occurs due to a lack of physical conditioning for their entire body, not just the upper extremity. The power and the ability to strike the golf ball correctly comes from the use of the powerful core and lower extremity muscles. If the lower body does not initiate the swing sequence correctly this can cause changes in the upper body swing mechanics placing the wrist and hand at risk. Swing faults of “Casting, Scooping, Chicken Winging and Over the Top” can contribute to wrist and hand injuries.

Traumatic injuries usually occur as a result of a twisting motion from hitting a rock, root or taking a deep divot as a result of a steep attack angle to the ball. There are a multitude of issues that may cause pain. Usually these injuries can be avoided by proper surveying of the conditions of the ground around the ball and shallowing your attack angle. A sprain to the ligament system causing pain over the central portion of the wrist will often resolve with conservative care, rest form golf, NASIDS, and ice for 2 weeks. If the pain persists after 2 weeks or if the pain is on either side of your wrist (thumb side or small finger side) the injury could be more complex, and you may want to consider seeing your health care professional sooner. Common traumatic injuries include a fracture of the hamate, a TFC (Triangular Fibrocartilage) disruption or ligament tears.

 

Forearm and grip strength combined with adequate wrist motion and appropriate grip and grip pressure are key to preventing these injuries. Three primary grips can be considered: for smaller hands the five finger grip where no overlapping or interlocking occurs, for the medium size hand the overlap grip (the small finger of the following hand overlaps the index finger of the lead hand) may be appropriate and finally the interlocking grip (small finger of the follow hand interlocks between the index and long finger of the following hand) for large hands. Appropriate warm up by forearm stretching and wrist range of motion play an important role in prevention. Place your hands flat on a vertical surface with your fingers facing up elbow straight for 30 seconds and then rotate your forearm so the fingers are facing down for another 30 seconds to stretch your forearm muscles. Carry a tennis ball in your bag and bounce it for 30 seconds with each hand will help warmup the wrist and hand.   Finally, equipment can assist in preventing injuries such as: Graphite Shaft with the proper flex for your club head speed, cavity backed irons and appropriate grips, help to dissipate the forces preventing injuries. See your local club or PGA professional to address equipment and swing mechanic issues. If you are having persistent pain that does not dissipate with rest within 2 weeks seek out an appropriate health care professional knowledgeable in golf injuries for diagnosis and treatment and who will work with your local golf professional or coach.

SHORE ORTHOPAEDIC PHYSICAL THERAPY
Following a thorough evaluation, our licensed therapists provide each patient with an individualized treatment approach. Our ultimate goal is obtaining superior functional outcomes that allow patients to return to a full life of sports, work, and recreation.

This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.

To Schedule A One-On-One Consultation Contact us at: (609) 927-1991
Request an appointment online: SHOREORTHODOCS.COM
Somers Point • Galloway • Cape May Court House

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