Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Common Golf Injuries


Common Sports Injuries: Golf

Many people are surprised to hear that injuries can occur from playing golf, but golf-related injuries to the elbow, back, knee, hand, or wrist are a very real possibility.

Back injuries can include:

  • Low back pain, from the rotational stress in your swing

Shoulder injuries can include:

  • Bursitis
  • Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis (pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint that makes it difficult to move the arm)
  • Impingement syndrome (inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff)
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Shoulder instability (a loosening of the structures that keep the ball of the shoulder in the socket)
  • Shoulder separation
  • Tendonitis

Elbow injuries can include:

  • Bursitis
  • Golfer's elbow (inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, also called medial epicondylitis)
  • Tennis elbow (inflammation on the outside of the elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis)

Hand or wrist injuries can include:

  • Finger fractures
  • Trigger finger (pain or "snapping" in the tendons of the fingers)
  • Wrist sprains
  • Wrist tendonitis

Golf Safety and Injury Prevention Tips

The most effective way to prevent golf-related injuries is to perform some simple stretches before each round.

  • Start with some neck and shoulder rolls to loosen the upper torso.
  • Stretch the shoulders by holding a golf club at both ends and raise it over your head; then grab it at both ends behind your back to stretch the front of the shoulder joints. To stretch the back of the shoulder, grab the opposite elbow and pull the arm across your body until you feel a stretch.
  • Do some side bends and trunk rotations to limber up the lower back.
  • Practice your swing, with a focus on proper technique, before you start hitting golf balls.

While recovering from an injury, your doctor will often let you chip and putt, which places less stress on the joints ... and will also improve your score! As your recovery progresses, start with the shortest clubs (wedges) and gradually work your way up to using the longer clubs (drivers) with a full swing.

To find out more about golf injuries or to make an appointment with one of our sports medicine specialists, visit the Request an Appointment page or contact us.

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