Golf Hand Pain & Carpal Tunnel

By: Steven R. Trinkl, MD

Do your hands hurt after golf? Golfers are prone to common hand disorders that affect their ability to enjoy the game. A painless, firm grip is needed to confidently swing a golf club.

If you feel tingling, numbness or sore hands after golf or other every day activities, you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Fortunately, the condition is easy to diagnose, and treatments can relieve symptoms.

CTS is caused by the compression of the median nerve as it passes through a tunnel at the base of the pain. It affects adult males and females of all occupations.

Symptoms may include all or some of the following:

  • Numbness and tingling in the thumb, index and long fingers
  • Pain in the hand or forearm
  • Weakened grip strength
  • Awakening at nighttime with numb hands
  • Numbness while driving

These issues may come and go or be a constant presence. They may also have varying severity and intensity. CTS is confirmed with an EMG-nerve
conduction study.

Initial treatment focuses on modification of activities that can exacerbate the condition. Ergonomic modifications to computer work stations, limiting use of vibratory tools, and reducing repetitive hand activities can help
to reduce symptoms.

NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory medicines are rarely effective in relieving CTS symptoms but corticosteroid injections directly into the carpal tunnel can provide short-term temporary relief. Bracing can frequently help reduce symptoms at night and allow for better sleep.

Non-operative treatments are frequently unsuccessful as a permanent solution to CTS. The underlying problem is a mechanical compression of the median nerve – think of it as a packaging problem in which too much material is being stuffed into too small of a space. Operative treatment releases the tight band that’s over the nerve through an incision
in the base of the palm.

Most people can return to activities like golf in four to six weeks. Success rates for carpal tunnel release are very high, and complications are rare.

Learn more about hand procedures and treatments.