M23 — June 2012 — Golf & Wrist Pain
Intro: More than 28-million Americans love to hit the links according to the National Golf Foundation. However, after a day on the course, some of them may wonder if the links hit back. Wrist and hand injuries are common. Why? And what can you do about them? Here's Dennis Douda for Medical Edge.
Other than that violent micro-second when the club head meets the little white ball, no one thinks of golf as a contact sport. Yet, the twists, torques and turf traumas encountered by gladiators of the greens can be jarring.
"Yeah, you hit a rock or a root that's underneath the grass that you don't see. Either that or it's just a bad swing and you dig in."
Lifelong golfer Rick Turner says it's been years since an injury has kept him off the course. He focuses on good form and staying conditioned to keep it that way.
"I play 4-5 times a week and I walk 18-holes."
"But if you haven't hit a golf ball for six months and suddenly you go out and start hitting 200 balls, then you are going to suffer the next morning."
Besides being a passionate golfer himself, Dr. Sanj Kakar is a hand specialist in Mayo Clinic's Department of Orthopedic Surgery. He says wrist and hand pain are fairly common, affecting about 10% of amateurs and up to 20% of professionals. The three main causes are: Overuse, Poor Mechanics, and Trauma, often resulting in strained tendons or even fractures.
If a golf outing does leave you with bothersome pain and stiffness, start by resting the achy joint.
"Ice is good, especially in the acute stages, to take away the swelling. And then once that's settled down, after the first few days, heat works well just to sort of make that area less stiff."
Reducing wrist pain might be the excuse you've been looking for to upgrade your clubs. The good Dr says some advances in modern technology can make a noticeable difference.
"For example, having graphite shafts, having cavity-backed clubs to take out the vibration of impact."
"Having a fatter grip may help them not squeeze the club too tight and, hence, alleviate any joint pains."
The Doctor also advises pre-game stretching, and professional lessons to establish solid mechanics. Sure, you may swing for show and putt for dough, but injury prevention will keep you in the game.
For Mayo Clinic, I'm Dennis Douda.
Dr. Kakar (KAH-kar) says the time to seek immediate medical attention is when you have continuing pain that doesn't go away… or you hear a pop in your hand or wrist followed by sudden swelling or severe pain. Those may be symptoms of aserious bone fracture, ligament or tendon injury.
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