Golf is a wonderful, and wonderfully frustrating, game. To play well requires concentration, nerve and studious dedication to proper technique. Working our way up to that proper technique often causes long-term problems for our joints.
Working with a coach or a golf pro to optimize your mechanics will decrease the chances or severity of injury. But even the best-played golf can lead to pain and disease in our joints. In this article, I review the impact golf can have on our joints, common medical treatments and better options that allow us to enjoy this beautiful game without pain.
Golf and your lower back
When it comes to injuries or pain caused by golf, lower back pain is definitely the most common complaint. Between 25 and 30 percent of all golfers develop lower back pain that flares up during or after every round. Many more have frequent, intermittent pain. And it’s not all due to improper technique. The percentage of tour-participating professionals with lower back pain is similar to those of us still finding our proper swing.
Why does golf cause so much pain in the lower back? The answer is twofold: One, because the specific motions add strain to the lower back, and, two, because we often use our backs to compensate for weakness or pain in other areas of our bodies. Most of us have made the mistake of not “lifting with our legs,” and if that’s you, then you understand how depending on the back to manage the stress other joints should be absorbing, can lead to injury.
Lower back pain is often an indication of more long-term wear and tear. Medical issues related to lower back pain may include:
● Muscle or ligament sprain
● Altered motor control: this is when the brain compensates for stress injury by changing how our muscles operate.
● Osteoarthritis: bone spurs and swelling press on spinal nerves.
● Spinal disc injury
● Stress fractures caused by rapid rotation of the spine
Golf and your hips
While golf is demanding on your back, the game can be very taxing on your hips as well. Between walking the course and repetitive stress as you swing, hip pain is a common complaint from golfers of all ages. The mechanics of the golf swing can tear and diminish hip cartilage, leading to limited movement, weakness and increasing pain. The repetitive twisting motion of the golf swing can also lead to joint stress or overextension.
Proper stance and balance can help stave off hip injury. Practicing a smoother swing may also relieve some pressure on your hip joints. In the end, repetitive stress will wear away cartilage, leading to stiffness, weakness and pain.
Golf and your knees or elbows
Hinge joints, knees and elbows are not designed to accommodate the rotating motion of the proper golf swing. Because of this, injury to the bones, muscles and ligaments in the knees and elbows is common. Wear and tear over time can lead to osteoarthritis in the knees and elbows. When tendons are not given enough rest after exercise, inflammation of the joint often occurs. This common condition is called Tendinitis.
“Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), like tennis elbow, can be very painful. Caused by overuse of the muscles necessary to execute a proper swing, the pain typically starts in or near the bony bump on your elbow, radiating down into the forearm.
Traditional treatments for sports-related pain
Minor injuries or early stage Osteoarthritis may be treated with rest, physical therapy, over-the-counter pain medication or steroid injections. As the underlying injury or disease progresses, further treatment protocols may be necessary.
Damage to joints may be repaired through surgery. For some patients with advanced joint disease, total joint replacement may be recommended. Any surgical procedure, from the moderately invasive arthroscopic knee surgery to the highly invasive joint replacement, come with significant risks. These risks may include: adverse reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, infection and, in replacement surgeries, potential joint rejection.
Fortunately, if injury or pain is keeping you from the game you love, surgery is not the only option. Many golfers, from pros to occasional players, are discovering the benefits of a proven, minimally invasive medical treatment that not only addresses the pain, but also heals the damage causing it.
Better alternatives to healing golf-related injury or pain
In the past decade, medical science has made tremendous advancements in the treatment of joint injury using regenerative medicine. Treatments using your own somatic (adult) cells takes advantage of your body’s healing capacity to transform diseased or damaged cells into new, healthy cells. This treatment works because cells are tasked with forming every part of our bodies. They work to repair damage, rather than just masking the pain and other symptoms.
Regenerative treatments are minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. In most cases, you can return to your normal routine in a few days. Patients report significant improvement in just a few weeks. In many cases, the positive results last for years, and many patients are able to delay surgery for years … or put it off forever.
If you are suffering from any of the common back, hip, knee or elbow maladies associated with golf, I have good news. You may not have to give up this wonderful game after all, because we are helping people, just like you, get their swing back every day.
Curious to learn more about how treatment can benefit you? CLICK HERE to schedule your appointment today.