Golf Injuries: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment

Ioannis C. Zouzias, MD; Jeff Hendra, MSPT, MTC, SCS; Jason Stodelle, MSPT, ATC, OCS; Orr Limpisvasti, MD


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2018;26(4):116-123. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Increasing numbers of people are playing golf. Golf is a unique sport in that the ability to participate at a high level is not limited by age. In addition, participants tend to play more rather than less as they grow older. Injuries can occur at any point during the golf swing, from takeaway through follow-through. Upper extremity injuries can affect the hands, elbow, and shoulder and are usually a result of the golf swing at impact. Injuries are also common in the lower back as well as the lower extremities. Most injuries are the result of overuse and poor swing mechanics. When treating golfers, it is important to have a good understanding of the biomechanics and forces of the golf swing to diagnose and manage the vast spectrum of injuries incurred in this sport.


Participation in the game of golf peaked in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century and has declined slightly since then because of the economic downturn. Despite this decline, in 2009, the National Golf Foundation reported that 25.6 million people in the United States participated in the sport.[1] Golf remains a popular sport because participants can be young or elderly, male or female, and of modest income or great wealth. A high level of performance in golf is not limited by a person's age. Golf injuries can be either acute or chronic, resulting from overuse. Most injuries are the result of overuse, and left untreated, they can lead to chronic musculoskeletal problems.[2] Common injuries have been documented in the low back, elbow, shoulder, wrist, and knee.[2–4] When treating golfers, it is vital to have a general knowledge and understanding of the golf swing and swing biomechanics in addition to the orthopaedic injuries themselves and management options.