Golf Injuries to the Hand, Wrist or Elbow
Hand, wrist and elbow in golf injuries are common for golfers of all skill levels.
The golf swing is a complex, coordinated series of motions. Injuries
can result from poor technique, overuse or a single direct blow, like
hitting a tree root.
Proper warm up and stretching is important to decrease the chance
of injury while golfing. Gradually increasing the length and intensity
of play as the season progresses can help avoid overuse injuries.
Conditioning and core muscle strengthening can improve swing
mechanics. Instruction with a teaching professional will refine your
technique and increase your enjoyment of the game injury free.
Types of Golf Injuries
Injuries can include tendonitis, sprains or fractures (broken bones).
Sprains or ligament injuries to the wrist most often involve pain and
popping in the wrist.
Wrist tendonitis typically occurs in the leading hand (left hand for a
Medial Epicondylitis, also known as “golfer’s elbow,” is a painful
tendonitis on the inner aspect of the elbow, where the muscles that
bend the wrist and fingers attach(Figure 1). Tendonitis on the outer
aspect of the elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is more common.
Hamate bone fractures occur when the club strikes the ground,
forcing the handle against the bony hook(Figures 2, 3 and 4). The
hook part of the bone can break, causing pain in the heel of the hand.
Damaged blood vessels can happen from the club handle repeatedly
striking the palm. Hypothenar Hammer Syndrome describes an
injury to one of the main arteries to the hand, where repeated blows
weaken the vessel wall causing it to enlarge and sometimes to clot.
This can cause local pain in the palm or disrupt blood flow going
to the fingertips, producing pain, numbness and color changes in
These injuries may arise by the repeated stress of practicing the
golf swing or by similar gripping activities such as hammering and
Initial treatment consists of rest, ice, splinting and anti-inflammatory
medications. Tendonitis can be improved by exercises designed
to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons, which can be
recommended by a hand therapist. Changing grips on the golf club
may also help.
When symptoms persist, a cortisone injection may be used to reduce
the painful area. Your doctor can assist you with this decision. For
some patients, a surgical procedure (often with wrist arthroscopy)
may be recommended. Casting may also be necessary for fractures.