The shoulder is an intricately designed joint, often touted as the most complex in the human body, as well as the most flexible. However, that also makes it highly prone to an assortment of injuries, many of which can take upwards of a year to fully recover from, depending on the severity.
Often referred to as a ball and socket combination, the shoulder joint is formed where the upper arm (the humerus) meets the shoulder blade (the scapula). Surrounded by a collection of muscles, tendons, cartilage, and other forms of soft tissue, the shoulder relies on everything working together in order to maintain strength and full range of motion.
For those who golf, a shoulder injury is one of the more devastating obstacles to overcome when trying to keep your swing intact. Due to the mechanics of swinging a golf club, your lead shoulder (or left shoulder for right-handed golfers, and vice-versa) is particularly prone to injury. And because of how the shoulder is structured, it can be more difficult to rehab the issue depending on where the injury took place.
Here are some of most common shoulder injuries that come from playing golf:
· Torn rotator cuff
· Shoulder Instability
· Frozen Shoulder
Recovering from each of these injuries takes time, and most importantly, rest. Yet, while some of these can be cured by using the RICE method of recovery, others will require surgery. That’s where our team of orthopedic specialists here at Rothman come in.
With world-class skill and knowledge in the field of sports medicine, our doctors are uniquely suited to help athletes of all skill ranges recover from the most serious of injuries, no matter the sport.
Dr. Russell Huffman is our newest addition to the Rothman Florida team, with an impressive background in the treatment of shoulder injuries. As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Huffman consistently finds himself performing shoulder replacements and rotator cuff repairs as a result of injury, particularly from those that occur on the golf course.
We had him answer a few questions around shoulder injury treatment, as well as give some advice on how to prevent golf injuries, below:
What are the most common shoulder injuries you see in patients as a result of golfing?
The most common injuries are rotator cuff and biceps injuries. However, it is not uncommon for golfers to have existing or progressing shoulder arthritis.
Do you have recommendations for how to prevent golf-related shoulder injuries?
Be reasonable in the number of rounds you play. For instance, if your shoulder hurts, consider limiting your outing to one round or even to 9 holes for exercise. So, even with mild shoulder pain, it’s typically okay to play and have fun.
Who should consider surgery versus non-surgical treatments?
Non-surgical treatments, when possible, are always preferable. However, when one does not get resolution of pain symptoms, loss of function, or can’t get a good night's sleep because of symptoms refractory to non-surgical treatments, then surgery is indicated. It is also indicated when there is a sudden injury with loss of function and a documented rotator cuff tear. In these cases, we tend to more aggressively recommend early surgical intervention.
Any advice for when to get back on the golf course after a surgery?
It depends on the surgery; however, after shoulder replacement and rotator cuff repair surgery, most people are able to play 9 holes around 4-5 months after surgery. We use an algorithm to progressively get people back to the sport and allow putting within 8 weeks after surgery.
Do you golf? If so, how do you prevent injury?
I golf to spend time with family and friends. Limiting play and focusing on fundamentals can help prevent both shoulder and common elbow overuse injuries.
If you or a friend is dealing with shoulder pain as a result of golfing or other activities, consider visiting Dr. Huffman or any of our specialized physicians at Rothman Orthopaedics. Whether the help you need is surgical or non-operative, we understand how important it is to get back to who you were. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, or just reach out with questions regarding shoulder care, you can do so by following the link, or by calling us at 1-800-321-9999.
G. Russell Huffman, M.D, M.P.H, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon based in central Florida, specializing in shoulder and elbow injuries. He is responsible for developing several surgical techniques and has over two decades of experience in orthopedic surgery. For 16 years, Dr. Huffman taught as an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also served as the Director of UPenn’s Shoulder and Elbow Fellowship.