Elbow, Wrist and Hand Injuries in Golf

elbow pain

As previously presented HERE, injuries of the elbow, wrist, and hand are second most common of all injuries sustained by golfers.  Not surprisingly, these injuries are more common in amateurs versus professional golfers.  The flexor and extensor tendons (muscles in the front and back of forearm) of the elbow are particularly susceptible to injury due to the repetitive demands of the golf swing, and the requirement of those muscles to be active during impact with the ball and the ground.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow). Humerus, Lateral epicondyle, Olecranon, Ulna, Extensor carpi ulnaris, Extensor digitorum, Extensor carpi radialis brevis, Extensor digiti minimi. MendMeShop¨Ê  ©2011

Two main elbow injuries are seen in golfers, medial epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow).  Interestingly, tennis elbow is as much as five times more common in amateurs than golfer’s elbow! These injuries are most often caused by repetitive use or a single traumatic event like hitting a “fat shot.”  As stated HERE, overuse injuries are usually seen in professionals and competitive golfers because of large practice times, and amateurs usually suffer from trauma especially with improper form or a bad swing.  It is no surprise that the incidence of elbow injuries increase with an increase in rounds of golf per week (especially if its 2 or more rounds per week).

Currently, limited to no research relates physical qualities of the golfer to factors that predispose them to elbow injuries.  However, as with most situations it is important to have full range of motion and strength.  Normal flexibility and sufficient strength typically allows our bodies to be more resilient especially when repetitive stresses are being applied to the same area.  This is analogous to runners having a strong lower body and core as well as mobile hips to attenuate the ground reaction forces being applied from the ground during each stride.

With that said, below are three quick tests that you can use in order to determine whether you have enough wrist range of motion.  Again, this is not exhaustive, so even if you pass these tests but have some wrist/ forearm or hand pain you should be evaluated by a medical professional.

RANGE OF MOTION

  • Wrist Flexion: Click the link —> HERE to perform the screen.
  • Wrist Extension: Click the link —> HERE to perform the screen.
  • Forearm Rotation: Click the link —> HERE to perform the screen.

MUSCLE STRENGTH/STABILITY

It is not within the scope of this post to discuss strength and stability tests of the forearm that would be used in a clinical examination.  Furthermore, there is limited research as to the efficacy behind what is “sufficient strength” and whether or not it reduces the risk of injury.  However, there is some current research that relates decreased shoulder strength/ endurance in individuals with tennis elbow.  View the full abstract —> HERE.

Also, a quick golf specific screen to consider shoulder impairments can be viewed —> HERE.

Again, prevalence and mechanism of upper extremity injuries in golf is relatively well understood; however, there is limited research as to predisposing factors for injury and injury prevention other than improvements in technique in the golf swing.  Hopefully, more research will be performed in the near future.

 

 

 

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