Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Is Arthritis Keeping You off the Golf Course?

Is arthritis keeping you off the golf course? Image courtesy Shutterstock
Is arthritis keeping you off the golf course? Image courtesy Shutterstock

The onset of arthritis may look set to ruin your future on the golf course—look out for the warning signs and stay healthier for longer

The serenity of the setting, the anticipation of the next swing, the strategy behind the next great shot…nothing beats the pleasures of golf. But imagine if your next round were to be your very last.

Unfortunately, many suffering from the onset of arthritis have to face exactly this situation—giving up their passion for golf because of arthritis. Not only can the condition put a halt to golf, it may cause a struggle with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, dressing and running errands or spending time with children and grandchildren.

The common thread through most forms of arthritis is the inflammation and stiffness of the joints. There are four important warning signs that should prompt you to talk to a healthcare provider—they are the following:


Pain from arthritis can be constant or it can come and go. It may occur when at rest or while moving.


Swelling that lasts for three days or longer or occurs more than three times a month should prompt a visit to the doctor.


Morning stiffness that lasts longer than an hour is good reason to suspect arthritis.

Difficulty moving a joint

It shouldn’t be that hard or painful to get up from your favorite chair.

Staying on the golf course

While you may worry that exercising with osteoarthritis could harm your joints and cause more pain, research shows that people can and should exercise when they have osteoarthritis.

In fact, experts maintain that exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis. This is because exercises help maintain and improve muscle strength. Strong muscles can support and protect joints that are affected by arthritis.

Warming up before a round of golf

A good conditioning program is essential for all golfers, but especially if your joints need extra protection. Swing smart:

  • Play from the 150-yard markers if you begin to get tired.
  • Keep your grip on the shaft light and consistent.
  • If you have back pain, you may find that the classic swing is more comfortable for you.
  • End it early—at the three o’clock position, rather than the one o’clock position.
  • Focus on sweeping through the ball. Transferring weight from one leg to the other is easier if you allow your heels to lift.

Some facts and figures

As the number one cause of disability in America, arthritis causes 172 million missed workdays, seven million hospitalizations and $300 billion in lost wages and medical expenses annually.

Surveys by the Arthritis Foundation underscore the challenges, noting that, “among our constituents, 73 percent struggle with arthritis daily, and 87 percent say physical activity helps improve their joint pain. But two thirds say they limit their activity because of arthritis.”

Today, the condition is still perceived by most people as an inevitable part of aging. But the fact is that two thirds of those with arthritis are under 65.