For many people, the game of golf is a conundrum … a game of frustration and/or one of relaxation. It takes commitment, practice, and patience to make the game enjoyable. Unfortunately, all that practice may lead to stress on parts of the body, particularly the shoulder. Even professionals may experience a golf injury of this type. Injury may come for any number of factors including poor swing, incorrect set up/follow through, overly robust swing, improper grip, and overuse.
These repetitive factors may contribute to a common shoulder injury of tendinitis, bursitis, or even a tear in the rotator cuff. Pain may not be felt immediately during play, but rather the night after or when lifting arms overhead. Often times, the discomfort is felt just below the shoulder in the upper arm.
Fortunately there are simple methods to prevent a shoulder injury. Since most injuries are from overuse and improper form, the first and foremost prevention is to rest between playing.
- If you are experiencing discomfort from a daily round of golf, limit yourself to every other day allowing your shoulder time to recover.
- Support your muscles with eccentric (lengthening or the “negative”) motions to build strength on your “off” days.
- Proper warm ups and stretches will help decrease injuries.
- Learn proper mechanics to decrease the swing force on your shoulder (the most powerful generator of the swing comes from the hips so when mechanics are good this will decrease stress on the shoulders).
- Enlist the assistance of a professional to correct your mechanics. The bonus? An improved game!
Assuming you’ve done all you can to prevent an injury yet you do sustain a shoulder injury, what’s the best course of treatment?
- Rest, rest, rest; it’s extremely important to allow the shoulder sufficient time to heal prior to getting back on the course. Do NOT play when you are in pain or you will exacerbate the shoulder trauma.
- Icing on and off for a day will help with swelling and may provide relief.
- Anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs, may ease the discomfort. These should be used only for a limited time.
- If your discomfort continues longer than a week and/or persists at night, it’s time to consult a physician.
When pain persists for an extended period of time, an orthopedic sports medicine physician will be able determine the cause and amount of damage. Clinical examination, X-rays and/or an MRI will provide a closer look and valuable data on the best course of treatment. We may prescribe physical therapy or a cortisone injection. If surgery is required, surgical advancements have progressed allowing us to utilize minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy.
Julie Gladden Barré, MD is a Fellowship Trained/Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon with a specialty in Sports Medicine at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates. Our commitment is to get patients back on their feet, back to work, back in the game, and back to life. Like us on Facebook here. Follow us on Twitter here.