Here’s how to diagnose one of the most common injuries in golf
Aa a key instrument of communication and commerce, our hands are among our most personal assets. As golfers, they’re our only connection to the golf club, making them vitally important. They need to be strong and steady.
At times, however, they’re quite vulnerable, especially through the hitting zone. While most pros are afflicted by overuse injuries, weekend players are highly susceptible to acute injuries. Among the most common is the dreaded hook of the hamate fracture. It results from striking the ground (or a root) with the club, forcing the grip’s butt end into the top-hand palm and loading the fin-like bony prominence of the hamate bone to the point of fracture.
Symptoms: Typically, you’ll feel an immediate tenderness in your palm where the end of the club rests in your top hand. The soreness can escalate with forceful grasping using the ring and pinkie fingers. Rarely at first, but in some undetected cases, you’ll feel an electric-shock–like twinge or tingling due to an irritated nerve.
Self-Care: If it comes to the point where gripping and swinging the club accelerates the pain, it might be in your best interest to exit the round — a hook of the hamate fracture could be in play. Don’t waste time with rest, ice packs or taping. Go see your doctor — if undiagnosed, not only will this injury make you ineffective and uncomfortable on the course, it can also cause significant longer-term problems, such as attrition of the flexor tendons and nerve damage.
Doctor Visit: Hook of the hamate fractures typically require surgery, because simple immobilization is ineffective in healing the bone. In the event of surgery, wait three to four weeks before you start putting and chipping, and at least two months before returning to the course.
Dr. Thomas J. Graham is a clinical professor of orthopedic surgery and hand surgeon at NYU Langone Sports Health.