Fractured Hamate Bone from Golf
Golf’s association with the beautiful outdoors is one of the best things about it. There’s nothing like soaking in some glorious vitamin D while working on your swing. But if you live in an area with cold winters, golf’s outdoor nature can be one of the worst things about it too. This makes the on-season even more valuable to golfers. And that’s why it’s so important to protect yourself from golf-related injuries. The last thing you want is for some of your golf season to be interrupted by a recovery period, especially from something like a fractured hamate bone. This tiny bone has the potential to cause big problems if you’re not careful.
The hamate bone is one of the largest carpal bones in the wrist area. There are eight carpal bones that, along with the ends of the ulna and the radius, make up the wrist. The wrist is also known as the carpus, which gives this collection of bones its name. A fractured hamate bone is not a very common injury for the average person. It makes up only 2-6% of carpal fractions. However, for athletes who use their grip in a sport—like golfers—the injury is much more common.
The hamate is located on the outer side of the palm at the base of the pinky. A fractured hamate bone will cause centralized pain in that area. The injury might also be accompanied by some numbness on the outside of the hand and wrist. This is because the fracture may also cause nerve damage to the ulnar nerve. A fractured hamate bone is also likely to weaken your grip.
A fractured hamate bone occurs from a direct blow to the palm. For injuries that aren’t sports-related, the fracture usually happens from a fall where a person catches himself or herself on outstretched hands. But for athletes, the blow to the palm comes in the form of force and stress that transfers to the grip from some type of impact. A fractured hamate bone might be caused in baseball due to the grip on the bat, for instance, or in tennis from the grip on the racket. And, of course, a fractured hamate bone can also occur from a golfer’s grip on the club during the swing.
A fractured hamate bone from these sports is usually caused by impact on one specific, tiny area—the hook of the hamate. This protrusion frequently rests on the golf club, causing it to receive the highest amount of stress. It’s such a tiny bone, and yet a fractured hamate can cost you a month or two of recovery time.
If you’re noticing any of the symptoms of a fractured hamate bone, you need to pay a visit to the doctor. The tiny breaks that make up this fracture are difficult to see on an X-ray and can easily be missed. Oftentimes these fractures require a CT scan to show where the break is, and in serious cases a doctor will prescribe surgery. Most of the time these surgeries just remove the entire hook of the hamate rather than trying to fix it. However, this method can sometimes decrease a person’s grip strength because it affects ligaments and muscles in the area. As an alternative, some surgeons choose to perform something called an open reduction with internal fixation (ORIF) with a screw.
Post-surgery, patients will need physical therapy to help rebuild strength and flexibility in the hand. This might include anything from light exercises to resistance stretching to massage. Physical therapy will increase recovery time, which is usually between six to eight weeks with proper care.
If you’re experiencing some of the common symptoms of a fractured hamate bone but haven’t been advised to go through with surgery, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your hand nonetheless. Use a splint to keep your hand stable and to prevent the carpal bones from undergoing further injury from movement. A splint will also help with pain during everyday activities. And, as difficult as it may be, it’s always a good idea to give yourself a rest from golf or any other activity that requires gripping.
Click here to learn how the Rolflex PRO can be used to alleviate pain associated with hand injuries.
No one wants to lose precious time during golf season, and no one wants to go through hand surgery and recovery. The best plan of action is to do what you can to avoid a fractured hamate bone altogether. As a golfer, you’re always at risk because of the nature of the sport. However, there are somethings you can do to lower the chances.
First of all, make some adjustments to your grip. Make your grip lighter, if possible. It’s a challenge not to hold on tight, but focusing on loosening your grip even just a little bit can help. It will also help to protect your hamate bone if you move your grip down. If your grip is high, then the butt end of the club is probably pushing right onto the hook of the hamate. Making this adjustment will alleviate some of that stress on your hand.
You can change up your swing, too, to protect your carpal bones. Instead of taking a deep divot, opt for a shallow angle of attack which will put less stress on your hands. Finishing through on each swing is also kinder to your hands, since it lets some of the moment die out naturally rather than trying to stop it short with your hands and wrists.
As with any area vulnerable to injury, you can also protect yourself by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Work your hand muscles by squeezing a ball or a grip exercise tool. Focus on strengthening the forearms and shoulders, too. These muscles are also responsible for supporting your swing and are just as important for protecting your bones.