Golf holds a special place in the life of many New Zealanders. It is the highest participation sport in the country, with 482,000 Kiwis over the age of 18 playing the game. It ranks as the number one sport for men and the second highest sport for women. A total of 125,000 New Zealanders are affiliated to golf clubs around the country and all up around 7 million rounds of golf are played annually.
In general, the majority of golf injuries occur in the lower hand. Therefore, for a right-handed golfer, the left hand and wrist are most commonly affected. Knowing the phase of the golf swing (i.e. backswing, downswing, impact and follow-through) that exacerbates the symptoms can also indicate the type of the injury.
Tennis Elbow/Golfer’s Elbow
Tennis elbow is soreness or pain on the outer side of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow is pain or soreness on the inner side of the elbow. Tennis elbow is more common amongst golfers than golfer’s elbow. Pain may be greatest at the top of the backswing and at impact. Among the possible treatments are rest, counterforce bracing, frictions and mobilisation, or injection (corticosteroid or autologous blood injection).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome typically presents as numbness and tingling of the fingers (particularly at night), hand weakness and clumsiness. This can be treated with night splinting, activity modification, steroid injection or surgery.
Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) Subluxation
ECU tendon subluxation is caused when the sheath holding the wrist tendon begins sliding in and out of its groove. The main symptoms are painful clicking of the wrist and pain on impact. Splinting and casting may be helpful but in some instances surgery to repair the torn tendon sheath may be required.
Impaction syndromes of the wrist are caused when the bones of the wrist bump into one another due to repetitive movements, causing pain and tenderness on the top of the wrist, usually at the top of backswing. Most wrists will respond to rest and splinting however a corticosteroid injection may be indicated. Surgery is rarely indicated.
Hook of Hamate Fractures
The hamate bone is a small bone in the wrist. The hamate has a small prominence called the hook, which protrudes into the palm. Most golfers grip their clubs in a way that puts the butt-end of the club right up against