Golfers should be aware that their favorite game could lead to serious problems in their knees. Damage to the knee may result from a sudden injury such as an ACL tear or it could be a chronic condition like osteoarthritis. Treatment and prevention for knee injuries in golfers begins with making players more mindful of the types of damage that could occur.
Knee Pain from an ACL Tear
An ACL tear can sideline a golfer for a while. Usually, the golfer first notes a slight popping while twisting the knee. After a few hours, the knee swells and pain intensifies. The average golfer experiences a torn ACL while engaging in high-impact contact sports such as a weekend game of football or soccer, but injury to this ligament can lead to problems with ones game of golf during and after healing. The ACL, which stands for anterior cruciate ligament, is located in the middle of the knee, and a torn ACL occurs when the knee moves beyond its normal range. Surgery can repair the ligament, but following that, golfers will need to avoid putting undue rotational stress on the knee.
Knee Pain from a Torn Meniscus
A torn meniscus is more commonly referred to as torn cartilage. This damage occurs from putting weight on the knee and twisting. Usually, damage to the cartilage already existed, but the twisting motion exasperated the condition, resulting in a meniscus tear. Knee pain from this type of injury feels sharp and swelling may occur. For mild symptoms, rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers for several days is the best treatment. Golfers who experience severe pain or cannot properly move the knee should consult with a physician about possible surgery to repair the torn meniscus. Before returning to the game, all golfers must fully recover from their meniscus tear to avoid creating more serious problems in the future. Reducing the amount of bending at the knees and limiting the amount of walking on the course may help a golfer with a meniscus tear to continue to play golf after recovery.
Knee Pain from Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis does not happen from a single incident, but it builds up with years of wear and tear on the cartilage of the knee. Most people with this condition experience a dull, intense pain that happens when the bones of the knee rub against each other without the lubrication of cartilage to soften the movement. Taking medications, doing exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee and reducing the load on the knee by losing weight can help to ease mild osteoarthritis, but knee replacement may be an option for those with debilitating pain. This surgery does not mean an end to one’s golfing days. After typically 18 weeks, most patients can return to the course, but it is always wise to check with a physician before getting back in the game after any type of surgery.
Knee Pain from Chondromalacia
Chondromalacia happens when cartilage wears down behind the knee. This leads to a dull pain that may feel achy and have swelling accompanying it. This condition, more often called “runner’s knee,” happens in golfers, too. Changing stances and strengthening the hamstrings may help to prevent the pain of chondromalacia, but until then, ice, a little rest, and ibuprofen or a non-prescription, non-steroidal, non NSAID anti-inflammatory with CM8 may help. As with all knee injuries or pain, the golfer should always discuss the matter with a physician to get a customized treatment plan.
Knee pain and injuries have many causes, but with the proper treatment, the golfer can get back to playing the game he or she loves.