Arthritis can have a major impact on quality of life. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of the disease, is characterized by the wearing down of articular cartilage, the smooth lining found on the ends of bones within a joint.
In the hip joint, advanced arthritis can lead to "bone on bone" contact of the top of the thigh bone and the pelvis. In this painful condition, there is damage to the articular cartilage, which allows for pain-free motion and serves as a shock absorber during weight bearing activities. The condition can become very painful, even during common activities such as standing, walking, climbing stairs, squatting or walking up inclines. People may find it difficult to move or rotate their hip. Golfers with severe arthritis may find they are unable to play; however, total hip replacement surgery can restore function and mobility.
Total hip replacement is a highly successful procedure that can relieve pain, improve mobility and enable people to get back to activities they enjoy. The operation entails replacing the painful, arthritic joint with a fully functioning hip implant. After removing the damaged cartilage and bone, the orthopedic surgeon positions new metal and plastic joint surfaces to restore hip function and alignment.
In the past decade, major advances have revolutionized joint replacement. New techniques such as less invasive hip replacement with much smaller incisions, better implant materials and advances in anesthesia are advantageous to patients.
It is estimated that by the year 2030, the number of hip replacement surgeries performed in the United states will increase by 175%.
When it comes to golf, arthritis can have a significant impact on one's ability to participate. Not only do golfers need to use their hip to rotate freely when they swing the club, they may face additional challenges during a round of golf. Hip arthritis can make it difficult to squat to tee up a ball or read a putt. Golfers may have trouble walking up mild inclines and getting in and out of awkward and uneven bunkers. The stress on the hip will vary, depending on the intensity and magnitude of the activity.
When there is a loss of internal rotation in the hip, which is common when someone has arthritis, golfers will have difficulty rotating onto the rear leg or following through onto the front leg. The result will be a loss of power, and demands may be placed on muscles in other areas to compensate.
A loss of motion in the hip combined with the normally limited motion of the mid-back region results in increased stress on the lower back. This is an area that already bears a significant amount of force due to the unnatural movements of the golf swing. To avoid hip and low back pain, golfers with limited hip motion may inadvertently alter their swing pattern in way that could result in damage to another part of the body.
Modifications on the Golf Course for Golfers with Hip Arthritis
- Play with the foot turned out to account for the loss of motion
- Decrease the swing plane in the direction of the affected side to minimize pressure on the joint
- Invest in a device that allows you to avoid squatting to tee up your ball or retrieve it from the hole (see photo).
- Be aware that the distance you can hit with each club may change after a hip injury or surgery, so you may have to select a different club to hit the same distance as before.
- Be certain to play in comfortable and supportive shoes with soft spikes.
- Wear neoprene or compression shorts. They may provide additional support and comfort.
- Use ice at the conclusion of the round for a minimum of 10 and maximum of 30 minutes.