According to "Golf Fitness Magazine," knee injury is the second most common injury a golfer can experience. The golf swing puts a tremendous amount of torque on the structure of the knee. For right-handed swingers, the left knee will see the most strain. "Golf Fitness Magazine" explains that to minimize the stress from the rotation and side-to-side movement, you need to keep the knee, hip and lower back muscles strong and flexible to prevent injury.
Anatomy and Function
The Center for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine explains that the knee is made of four bones, the patella or kneecap, the femur or thigh bone, and the tibia and fibula or the two bones of the lower leg. Connecting these bones to the hamstring and quadriceps muscles of the leg are ligaments. The meniscal cartilage or meniscus lies between the tibia and femur and acts as a type of cushion allowing the bones to slide over. The bursa, or fluid-filled sac, helps the ligaments and muscles to do the same.
Trauma associated with golf injuries occurs in the quick rotation of the knee through the swing. This puts stress on the ligaments that stabilize the knee and prevents your knees from buckling. An anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear occurs with a sudden change of direction and rapid deceleration characterized by a popping sound in the knee. According to the Center for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, the movement during a golfer's swing can also cause a meniscal tear, or torn cartilage. Because the menicus has little or no blood supply it cannot heal in the same fashion as the rest of your body. When damaged, pieces of the meniscus move around inside the space of the knee and can cause inflammation and pain.
Wear and Tear Type Injuries
"Golf Fitness Magazine" describe two types of wear and tear injuries common to the golfer's knee, osteoarthritis and condromalacia. Although the former concerns the joints and the latter the kneecap, both are caused by gradual deterioration over time, especially in the avid golfer. Caused mainly by poorly conditioned muscles, overuse or previous injuries to the area, both are exacerbated by poor body mechanics during the swing.
Inflammatory Type Injuries
Common in new golfers and those golfers learning new methods to perfect their swing, tendinitis is caused by the inflammation of the tendons from overuse and not enough rest between activities. University Sports Medicine of Buffalo, N.Y., states patellar, or knee, tendinitis can occur when hips, legs, feet and knees are out of alignment. This is common in many golfer's swings. Tendinitis is characterized by pain and swelling of the knee, especially during movement.
The best solution is prevention. Warm-up before each game, take lessons from a professional and do exercises to strengthen your lower back, legs and knees. Take it easy if you've been off the course for a while. When practicing your swing, start with a wedge or pitch and work up to the drivers. But if the injuries already have occurred, seek medical help. For patellar tendinitis, University Sports Medicine suggests applying ice packs to the knee at 20 to 30 minute intervals every 2 to 3 hours over the course of a couple of days until the pain recedes. For more serious injuries you might need a course of prescribed medication or possibly surgery.