Fortunately, most golf injuries can be treated without the need for surgery. However, if the injury is severe, or nonsurgical treatment does not help after several months, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. Here are some of the surgical methods most commonly used to treat golf injuries.
Surgical Treatment Options
Unless the injury is serious, causing severe pain and instability, most doctors will try to treat a golf injury with nonsurgical methods first. Nonsurgical treatment will be helpful in most cases, but there are surgical options available if conservative treatment does not relieve your pain.
Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)
There are two surgical options for golfer’s elbow, depending on the amount of damage. A surgeon may only remove the damaged tissues in the tendon. This procedure is called a tendon debridement. However, the most common surgical procedure for golfer’s elbow is called a medial epicondyle release, or tendon release. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the arm over the damaged tendon, moving the soft tissues aside to access the area where the tendon attaches to the bone. The tendon is then cut away from the bone and split to remove any scar tissue. If any bone spurs are present, they can be removed as well. The tendon is then reattached. This procedure helps to release the tension in the tendon.
Bulging and Herniated Discs
Most bulging and herniated discs can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure called a microdiscectomy. Microdiscectomies are performed through a smaller incision than open back surgery, with minimal disruption to the structures in the back; therefore, this procedure results in a shorter recovery time. First, the incision is made, and soft tissues and muscles in the back are gently moved aside to gain access to the spine. The surgeon uses operating glasses or an operating microscope to view the spine during surgery. The surgeon will remove all or part of the disc to take pressure off the irritated nerve.
Rotator Cuff Tears
If the rotator cuff is torn, surgery may be necessary to restore stability in the shoulder. Depending on the severity of the damage, there are a few surgical options available. Open surgery is the traditional approach to repair a torn rotator cuff. However, advancements in technology have made it possible to use arthroscopy to perform some rotator cuff repairs. With arthroscopy, the surgeon uses a small camera to see inside the joint, which allows the surgeon to perform the procedure through a much smaller incision than what would be needed for an open repair.
Recovery from Golf Injuries After Surgery
Recovery from surgery will depend on the type of procedure you undergo. It can take up to six months to fully recover from a surgical procedure, although minimally invasive procedures can help to shorten recovery time. You will begin physical therapy or stretching exercises as soon as possible after surgery, beginning with gentle stretches and moving up to more active exercises as you recover. The goal of physical therapy and exercise is to regain strength and function.
The most important part of recovery is to follow all instructions given to you by your doctor. Don’t go back to playing golf until your doctor has indicated that it is safe, or you risk re-injury.
Finally, once you have recovered and are back on the golf course, remember to take preventative steps to make sure you don’t suffer from another injury that takes you out of the game.