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5 Causes of Injury and Wrist Pain From Golf

Golf swing.

Wrist pain is common among people who play golf regularly. These injuries often occur due to poor mechanics, overuse, or trauma. Finding the right treatment to alleviate your symptoms, however, depends on the underlying cause. Take a look at our guide to help you understand what causes wrist pain while playing golf and how a sports medicine specialist can help you get back on the course in no time.

Causes of Wrist Pain
Wrist pain and injuries typically occur at the moment of impact when the club and ball meet. There are several reasons why golf wrist pain may occur:

  • Overuse: Most golf-related injuries are a result of overuse, especially in recreational "weekend warrior" golfers who play a lot during the weekend and not much during the week. Also, those who are trying to improve often hit buckets of balls without stopping, leading to injury.
  • Hitting Surface: Hitting off mats can produce a larger shock force on the body with each swing compared to natural grass. This is especially true with irons as they are meant to be hit with a descending blow past the impact of the ball. When hitting off mats, be careful not to hit too many iron shots (especially short irons). Hybrids, fairway woods, and long irons tend to be hit with more of a sweeping arc and are somewhat safer to hit off mats.
  • Rough/Roots/Rocks: Many sudden wrist injuries occur from a club that is going upwards of 100 mph and suddenly decelerating because of hitting out of deep rough or an unforeseen rock or root either before or after the ball. The most common of these injuries are Hook of Hamate fractures, TFCC tears, and Tendonitis. Check the area around the ball carefully to make sure there aren't any immovable objects within your swing path. If you are playing a non-competitive round, consider taking a drop, or if you are playing a competitive round, consider taking an unplayable penalty.
  • Poor swing technique: Many Injuries occur because of poor technique such as gripping the club too tightly. Check in with a reputable golf instructor to help build proper technique!
  • Previous injury: Golfers who have suffered injuries to the wrist or forearm in the past are more susceptible to wrist pain and injury in the future. Unfortunately, many patients who are eager to return to playing do so sooner than is required for healing. Do not return to playing golf after an injury until there is full, painless range of motion of the wrist. Also, prolonged injuries that are not treated could lead to permanent damage in the underlying structure of the wrist.

When to See An Orthopedic Surgeon
When wrist pain first appears, the first step is to rest and apply ice if swelling has occurred. A compression wrap or wrist brace may also be helpful to alleviate discomfort. If your symptoms continue for more than a week or the pain gets worse, contact your orthopedic surgeon.

During an exam, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your wrist. They may order a test such as an X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to help diagnose the problem.

If your golf wrist injury is the result of tendinitis, for example, your doctor may suggest rest and physical therapy. An injection of platelet-rich plasma or corticosteroid could also help reduce inflammation in the injured area to start the healing process. Surgery, such as wrist arthroscopy, may be an option if other methods don’t help. This involves repairing the tissue inside or around your wrist using a tiny camera and surgical tools.

For a broken bone, a cast/brace may be needed to allow the injury to heal, and physical therapy may be needed eventually. Hook of Hamate fractures however often require surgery as this bone usually does not heal on its own.

Golf wrist pain can greatly impact your performance on the golf course. New York Orthopedics’ “Center of Excellence” is home to over 10 specialty-trained sports medicine physicians hand surgeons who provide personalized care for a wide range of orthopedic injuries. Make an in-office or telemedicine appointment today at one of our locations in New York City to start your healing journey.

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