Wrist and hand pain common in golf

Mayo Clinic explains 3 main causes and what to do about them

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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,"explains lifelong golfer Rick Turner.

Turner, who plays four to five times a week and walks 18 holes says it's been years since an injury kept him off the course. He focuses on good form and staying conditioned to keep it that way.

"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," explains Dr. Sanj Kakar, a hand specialist in the Mayo Clinic's Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

Kakar is a passionate golfer himself.  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," says Kakar.

Reducing wrist pain might be the excuse you've been looking for to upgrade your clubs. Kakar says some advances in modern technology can make a noticeable difference.

"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," he says.

Kakar also advises pre-game stretching, and professional lessons to establish solid mechanics.  He warns 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 a serious bone fracture, ligament or tendon injury.

For more information on golf injuries, you can go to mayoclinic.org or you can call the Mayo Clinic here in Jacksonville at (904) 953-2272.

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