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Stiff Fingers Caused by Golfing Too Much

"Golf Fingers"

By Dr. Michael, originally published in October 2006

I seriously took up golf game about five months ago in May 2006. I learned a little on how to play 14 years ago but never played on a golf course until 2003. Since 2003, I played scramble games about once or twice per year for various fund-raising tournaments. One can imagine I was very bad. At age 44, I finally took the plunge and got hooked.

I "discovered" a golf course in our backyard. The club house and the driving range are within walking distance. I started practicing there twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. I easily hit 80 to 100 balls in one hour. My game started to improve quickly. I broke 120, 110, and 100 in a matter of months. I also lost some weight from the daily exercise.

Then something strange happened to my fingers - stiff fingers in the morning. After some research, I believe it is a common problem that is often misdiagnosed. I call it "golf fingers." I am writing my story about my learning process about this illness to share with other golf lovers and those who may suffer from this problem for other reasons.


When I wake up in the morning or the middle of the night, all of my fingers feel stiff. They feel fine in straight positions, but when I try to bend them into a fist shape, I feel pressure on all the joints and knuckles. The fingers feel like "rusted." After moving, rubbing, and stretching them for a few times, the feeling would go away. I don't have such problems during the day.

The onset timing of the symptoms clearly corresponds to the start of my serious golf practice.

It's not that painful but it just feels strange and problematic. I am concerned that the problem may get worse over time if not properly diagnosed and treated. I started the process of searching for an answer.


First I went to see my family doctor about two months ago. The first thing he mentioned was carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). He suggested me to buy a splint to wear to sleep. He also suggested taking supplements for joints. He gave me some sample Celebrex, a muscle anti-inflammation drug. He did not seem to think the problem was caused by golf.

He suggested me to start using a dietary supplement called glucosamine and chondroitin that has long-term benefits to joints.

His nurse, while checking on my blood pressure and temperature, suggested that I may have been holding the golf clubs too tight. Perhaps she knew something about golf.

I looked up carpal tunnel syndrome on the web. I have heard about this problem before but never knew what it was about. I found some discrepancies between a typical carpal tunnel syndrome and the syptoms on my fingers. First, I don't have the tinkling feelings on the tips of my fingers. I just feel pressure on the finger joints. Second, I feel the pressure on all of my fingers including my thumb. Most carpal tunnel syndrome happens to the index and middle fingers.

I bought a set of splints from Walgreen's. They seem to help a little in the beginning; but not significantly enough (Note: later it turns out that the splints were very helpful). The pain medicine and glucosamine did not seem to help much either.

Incidentally I played a round of golf with a chiropractic doctor. I told him of my finger problems in the morning. He suggested it could be a nerve problem caused by my neck spine because of the effects on the pinky and small fingers. Again since I feel only pressure instead of nerve tinkling, I discounted that association. I didn't go to see him at his office as he suggested for further examination.

Armed with the new information, I went to see my family-practice doctor the second time. After I explained to him that I feel pressure more than tinkling or numbness, he agreed that the problem is not carpal tunnel syndrome. He took a blood sample to test for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Two days later, the result came negative (rheumatoid factor <20 IU/ML; the normal range is <30). He recommended me to see a specialist.

I made an appointment to see the rheumatologist. His diagnosis was early signs of osteoarthritis. It's a degenerative desease, which means I am getting old. He said there is no cure for it. He suggested me to use Tylenol Arthritis for the pain. Since the problem is minor and spread to all of my finger joints, cortisone injection would be difficult to apply. The blood test for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a positive identifier but not a negative one. He thinks these symptoms may not have anything to do with my golfing and I should be able to continue to play golf.

I asked him why the problem occurs only in the morning and after sleep. He said that the chemistry in the joints change when one is in sleep and the fingers are inactive. If you sleep during the day, you would have the same problem. Once you move around and have the joints fully "lubricated", the problem would temporarily go away.

I came across a traditional Chinese medicine specialist. She said pretty much the same thing. According to her, this problem is quite well known and there is no cure for it.

Online Information

I did some intensive Internet search and reading on this topic. Many people have the same problem ¨C stiff fingers in the morning. It's much more common than I thought. It seems most of them do not know the cause and there is no good cure. Doctors seem to give vague answers like my doctors did. Arthritis Association website promotes golf for arthritis patients.

Here are two links to forums where ¡°stiff fingers¡± were discussed. One even mentioned about symptoms after playing golf. However, there seems to be no literature online making the definite connection between golf and stiff fingers.

Trigger fingers, morning stiffness, and Fibromyalgia are well documented online and in the medicine community. However, these problems do not exactly match what I have and there seems no easy way to identify the direct root cause or effective cure. Playing golf was not listed as one of the root causes.

On websites that detail various golf-related injuries, "golf elbows" and "tendon injuries" are quite common but no one mentions golf fingers. I asked my coaches and other people who play golf often; they do not seem to have heard such problems.

Here is an online description of tendon injuries: De Quervain's Disease is a tenosynovitis of the abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis (deep muscles of the forearm). This overuse injury is caused by a tight grip of the club and repeated ulnar deviation during the golf swing. Clinical findings include swelling and tenderness at the radial styloid and a positive Finkelstein test (ulnar deviation of the wrist with the thumb fully adducted causes marked pain). Splints, taping and NSAIDs will relieve mild symptoms. Severe cases usually need corticosteroid injection. Where inflammation has resulted in thickening and stenosis of the fibro-osseous tunnel, surgery is indicated.

I asked a pharmacist at Walgreen's and searched products there. At first she asked me if I eat too salty food, which may cause the accumulation of water in the joints. But I don't have serious swelling on my fingers, but just feel tight pressure. Then I told her that I play golf every day. She then said, "Modulation! Everything you do needs to have modulation. Do not overdo it."

Then I found a friend of mine who is about my age and has exactly the same problem. He started the game three years ago and has had the stiff finger symptoms ever since. I started to see the connection between my golf habit and stiff fingers.

Golf Fingers

I tried almost everything to cure the problem. I slept with splint, socks, and gloves to keep my fingers in straight or fist shapes. It seems to help a little but the problem did not go away. I also tried massage, cold treatment, and hot treatment. I tried to grib the clubs not as tight. None of them seem worked. I took Advil, Tylenol, vitamins, and other medicine. The problem persists. I even noticed that the problem stayed with me when I took a 10-day vacation in August.

In early October, I pulled my back muscle while playing golf. As a result, I had to rest to recover. I didn't use the golf range or play a game for weeks. Finally I felt significant improvement in my fingers. The symptoms almost went away. But they resumed when I started playing again. This is the first direct prove that my finger problems were indeed caused by golfing. This was a good timing to study the cause-and-effects by testing various elements that may triggle the symptoms.

There are three movements of my fingers during a normal golf swing that may have be the root cause. One is the gripping - simply squeezing the fingers against the grip may pressure the muscle, fluids, and joints. Second one is the actual swinging, which gives the fluids a centrifuge force. The third one is the impact from hitting the ball.

I tested the impact of each of these movements to my stiff finger symptoms. I did each movement at different nights before going to bed and determined its impact on my fingers in the morning.

I found that simply swinging with my hands open does not worsen the stiff fingers. Simply squeezing my hands against the grip without hitting the ball only made the stiff fingers slightly worse. The difference became much more noticeable if my fingers are feeling pressure and stiff the day after a game. A combination of squeezing and hitting the ball clearly made the stiff fingers worse.

I now believe that my stiff fingers were caused by excessive hitting the golf balls in the driving range. The problem may have nothing to do with carpal tunnel syndrome although I learned more about it. Most likely it has nothing to do with arthritis either.

When playing a round of golf, we may hit 70-100 times in 4-5 hour period. On a driving range, we can easily hit 100 times in a matter of 30-60 minutes. Such intensive hitting cause an impact on the fingers.

The Cure

I made a few adjustments to my golf techniques:

(1) I re-gripped all of my clubs to make the grips soft and easy on the fingers. The soft grips can absorb much pressure from the clubs.

(2) I wore gloves on both of my hands as an extra protection. To fellow golfers, I may look funny with gloves on both of my hands; but they protect my fingers. Some of the golf training books do suggest using gloves on both hands for some people who are sensitive to the grip motion. Recently I saw a doctor playing with two gloves for the same reason.

(3) I switched to ten-finger grip from locked-finger grip. The locked-finger grip made my little finger and pinky finger very painful. Changing to ten-finger grip immediately solved this problem.

My finger problem started to get much better once I started changing my practice habit:

(4) I no longer go to range to practice long-distance hitting with irons or woods in late afternoon or at home during the evenings. I now do it only in the morning since that would leave more time for my fingers to recover before sleep. In the late afternoons I practice only putting and short shots, which is great for my game.

(5) When practicing long-distance and full swings, I now would take breaks to check my alignment and posture between hits to give some time between swings. I don't hit as many balls as before during each practice but I increased my accuracy and get into a good habit of maintaining a pre-swing routine. I now do the long-distance, hard hitting only once or twice per week.

I also played the game less. I now play only once or twice per week instead of 3-4 times.

I still take glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM supplement, but I don't think that has anything to do with the immediate improvement. It may help the long-term health of my joints. I bought two bottles from Walgreen's since they had a buy-one-get-one-for-free sale. I put one bottle at home and the other in the office.

I do think sleeping with a splint does help the situation. It helps keeping the fingers in a slightly curved/fist position during sleep. I suggested the kind made by Mueller. These are interchangeable between left and right hands, making it much easier to put them on in dark.

The Conclusion

I believe my stiff-finger-in-the-morning syndrome was a result of excessive hitting of golf balls in the driving range. It's a problem caused by the physical impact of golfing to the joints. The problem can be eliminated or minimized by modulating the golf practices.

I believe other activities such as operating vibrating machine drills that have high physical impact on the fingers may cause problems similar to "golf finger,' although more research should be done.

My golf fingers did not go away completely. It comes back the next-day morning after each game but subdues after resting for a day or so. It would be very interesting and helpful to study exactly which part of the fingers that are impacted by golfing that caused the problem. Consequently, a more direct preventative measurement can be designed to prevent or minimize the problem.

I still have some questions lingering. Is it really the joints that caused the problem? How about the impact of golfing on finger muscles and blood circulation? Should I change my steel shafts for my iron clubs to graphite to make them a little more shock-absorbing and easier on my fingers?

I hope to continue the study and share the results with you here soon.

Now let's enjoy golf more by practicing less.

Although a scientist by training, Dr. Michael is not a medical doctor. What he described here is for experience sharing only. It's not intended to offer any medical advice to any one. Read it and use the information at your own risk. Always consult your own doctor before taking on medical matters.

Michael, October 2006.
Comments? Send them to information @ All correspondence/comments are subject to publication on this web page. Alternatively, leave your comments on our forum.
Comments by my golf instructor

As far as your "golf fingers," this is the first time I have heard of this type of injury with the golf swing. I currently do not know of any devices that you can put between the grip and the hands to help. I would possible pursue larger, soft grips (oversized winn grips), and possibly going to a stiff graphite shaft to help dampen the shock of the ball and have a softer feel. We can talk more about it when you come in as well.

I am very interested to take a look at your grip of the club and how the hands work in the swing. If the hands work improperly in the swing, there can be added stress put on them.

The question I have would be do any guys on tour have this problem? I looked but couldn't find much. They on average hit anywhere between 200 to 1000 golf balls a day and you would think at least one of those guys have to have the same problem.

--Jeff, Feb 2007
I have the same issue relating to golf. Both hands (fingers) are stiff in the morning. The pressure on my fingers (left hand) caused trigger finger at the middle finger. It is only certain fingers that are affected and those fingers are more stiff in the morning due to the impact of the golf grip / swing.

After a shower and exercising my fingers the stiffness goes away, but must keep all fingers active or the stiffness will come back. I also played hockey for many years that may have compound the issue. I am 59 years old and noticed this stiffness about two years ago.


Does putting hands under hot water help your fingers?

I had couple cortisone injections to help my trigger finger which does fix the swollen of the middle finger but after playing more golf it comes back. I am going to have the trigger finger surgery next month. Hopefully will resolve the trigger finger but the stiffness will most likely be there for ever unless I stop playing golf.

I believe it is overworking the fingers for many years. I am very active. Any advice?

How are you doing now with your fingers?


I tried hot water and it didn't help me. It seems that cold treatment helped me a little, especially during and right after a round of golf.

There is now no doubt to me that the morning stiffness is a direct result of playing golf. Whenever I stop playing golf for a week or so, the problem goes away or gets much better. I decided to continue to play while modulating my practices between short and long games. Sleeping with splint on both hands on the night of game days significantly reduces the symptoms.

However, I am still not sure whether the stiffness is from the joints in the fingers or actually a sensation from the nerves. I tend to believe it's the nerves rather than the joints. My plan is to go to see a neurologist to see if a neurologist has any solutions for such problems.

It's interesting that this problem occurs to some of us but not all of us. Otherwise we should have heard or read it from all those professional golfers.

I believe that the problem is not caused by any improper gribbing of the clubs. It turns out that I grib my clubs actually much lighter than my golf buddies. Through out my first full year of golf, I had yet to break one single glove and my soft gribs do not show any signs of wear and tear. I can't say the same about my buddies, which means that they grib their clubs much harder than me.

Good luck to your surgery and I hope to continue to share the info with you.

BTW, I broke 90 in March - less than a year after I started my golf mission. I scored 87 about a month ago and 40 in a 9 hole the past weekend - my personal best thus far. No pain, no gain?!


Thank you for the reply back and sharing your experience.

I find hot water is the only way I can get my hands to move. Mostly happens to my left hand since it has trigger finger (caused by continuous pressure on my fingers "I believe"). My right hand seems to be a lot better. In the morning the left hand I can not hold anything without warming my hands first. The right hand, two fingers, index and middle finger (golf grip) are affected the worst but are good to go after a few flexing of the fingers.

Also, I find that the more I use the fingers during the day (except for typing) the less stiffness during the day. Regardless of how much movement of the fingers, I still get stiffness in the morning. I think I will always have this condition.

Couple of years ago I had my left hand tested and they could not find anything wrong with my hand.

I am 59 years of age and active and love golf. I worried about the future. I started playing golf 5 years ago and hope to continue. You are right about reducing the time to play. It does help to take a break.

I plan on seeing my doctor again before surgery. He thinks this is not related to golf. He keeps saying "go play golf, it will have no effect with my hands". He has no idea! I want to make sure that surgery is the way to go.

A 40. That is great. I shoot between 45 --> 50. If I get under 50 that is fine with me. It is a great game and hope we both can enjoy playing for many more years.

Take care and have a wonderful 4th. --Al

Your situation seems to be much more serious than mine. If I were you, I would either quit golf or play it only rarely. The whole reason we play golf is to get some exercise and fun. If it hurts our health, I would rather choose another activity that would give me exercise and fun without hurting my health.

What I want to accomplish is to find a way to minimize this problem while continuing to play golf.

When I said "cold treatment" I meant during the game/practice or right after the game/practice. The idea is to use cold treatment right after the practice to avoid having the morning stiffness. I noticed that my fingers would come "red" and "warm" after a round of intensive ball beating. If I treat it with ice or cold water, it reduces the chance of having the morning stiffness. I believe this is similar to cold treatment of injuries to muscles.

In your description, you were trying to use hot water to loosen up your fingers AFTER the morning stiffness already developed. To me, that is not a problem. As long as I move/rub my fingers around a few times, the stiffness goes away in a minute or so.

I noticed that beating the balls at range is much worse to my hands than an actual round of golf. I can beat 100 balls in an hour in the range while only hitting 90 or so during five hours of golf on a course. I may bbe holding the club the whole time on a range. In comparison, there are allot more time to rest my fingers during shots on a course.

Another more serious phenomenon has developed in my situation. I noticed that I could now feel "numbness" through my shoulders all the way to my hands in the morning sometimes, especially after a practice at the range. This is similar to feelings I have in my arm and shoulder if I sleep on my sides for a while except it happens to both sides of my shoulders and arms at the same time. I think this may be related to golf playing and finger stiffness because obviously I can't sleep on both of my sides at the same time. Our golf swings do put some pressure onto our arms and shoulders.

This "numbness" feeling is much like the feelings I have in my legs if I sit for too long - something I am sure almost every one experiences. I believe this is caused by the nerve reactions to enlonged reduction in blood circulation due to the pressure applied. If allot of pressure is applied to our fingers for an extended period of time, would it also cause the "numbness" reactions from the nerves in our fingers?

If that is the cause of my problem, perhaps this is the cure for me: (a) Don't beat the balls at the range too intensively. Always take a break between shots. Once I reach my goals in golf, maybe I should quit practicing at the range all together, especially for those long shots. (b) Rub and cold treat my hands during a round of golf or practice.

What is amazing is that I haven't read any articles on this subject in any golf magazines, books, and websites I have read so far. Some one from the medical fields needs to pay some attention to this problem. I am sure there are plenty medical doctors who love golf. As a matter of fact, one of my golf buddies is a heart specialist. I'll email him to see what he thinks.

I have made an appointment to see a neurologist on July 13. I'll keep you posted of what he has to say. --Michael
Hi Michael,

I believe my major problem is with the trigger finger. It is painful to close my left hand. Especially in the morning. It is only with my middle finger. I am sure you are aware of trigger finger and what can cause it (golf is listed as being one of the causes). In my case I believe the continuous gripping / pressure of the club caused the trigger finger. It is recommended to put your hand in hot water to soften the tissue so the ball tendon slides through the tendon sheath. It is recommended a few times a day using the hot water method.

Once I get the trigger finger fixed, then I will have an idea how bad the morning stiffness will be. The right hand is mild.

I plan on making an appointment with my hand specialist this week. I will keep your posted.

Have you ever experienced trigger finger?

Hi Al, Fortunately, I don't think I have "trigger finger."

"Hand specialist?" It sounds like someone I should visit too. When you are seeing him or her, do you mind asking about what we discussed about morning stiffness and how to prevent it (other than quitting practicing on the range)?

Best wishes. --Michael, 7/10/2007
Hi michael just wanted to say i appreciate the site and keep up the info - nice to see someone with a similar problem trying to analyse the cause/solution. I'm also convinced my trigger finger was caused by discovering a driving range i could visit in my lunch hour. I suspect it's more likely to affect beginners than pros as tendons do get stronger over time just not as quick as muscles. Pros therefore have managed to avoid the injury and have the strength in their hands to handle the strain. those of us beginners who have the opportunity to commit to regular range practice are therefore straining our tendons more than they can cope. me trying to quickly play through a bucket of balls in just 30 mins probably didn't help either.

Haven't played for 3 whole weeks now and whilst its fading from most fingers i still have it quite bad in one.

just my own thoughts. --pk, 7/10/2007
PK: Thank you for the thoughts and feedback. My morning stiffness almost goes away if I stay away from the driving range. It does not show much if I only play on the golf course. I guess it means I should practice only my short games from now on. --Michael, 7/10/2007
Hello Michael,

I just found your blog about having stiff fingers. I started having this problem a few months ago. I go to the range about once a week, but I also hit wiffle balls in my back yard just about every day. I wake up in the morning with my hands so stiff I can't make a fist at all. Since there is not any real impact with the plastic balls, I think my problem is coming from gripping the club for an extended period of time without much rest inbetween swings.

I believe this is causing "Trigger Finger" in all of my fingers. If you read this site about it, it describes the symptoms pretty well - The base of my ring finger on my left hand has been sore. The last blood test I had, my doctor told me my fasting blood suger was starting to rise, so I may be pre diabetic, which that link states that women and people with diabetes are more prone to this condition.

I think I'm just going to quit swinging for a while to see if things don't get better. Just wanted to let you know what I found out and I hope your symptoms have improved!

Tim W., 10/02/2007
Hi Tim,

Thanks for the sharing the info.

I believe "trigger fingers" are much more serious than the "stiff fingers in the morning." Luckily I don't have "trigger fingers."

My "stiff fingers" have been under control since I modulated my practices and wore splints during sleep. I have been practicing mostly of my short games, which does not bother my fingers as much AND does help my game. I just scored a 86 this Wednesday - matching my personal best.

However, the problem did not go away completely. It's frustrating that no one seems to have a cure to this problem. My visit to the neurologist specialist did not help much, either. He gave me some pain pads. I haven't tried it yet. I feel that golf is also starting to impact the other parts of my body such as my wrists and shoulders.

Good luck to you, --Michael, 10/5/2007
Hi Michael,

I too was hitting alot of balls,around 150-200 4-5 times a week. I've been playing golf for about 8 months now and love the game, but this stiff fingers thing in the morning is so anoying to say the least. It's only in the left hand and its my middle finger that the pain is in, the rest pop when i close them but they dont hurt. i do believe its only from when i started to go crazy at the range this problem started. There is something i have tried and it seems to help a little.. its called the gripp...its like a stress ball but only its a little harder to squeeze, this definitely has helped me.

I am 34yr old and hate the thought of giving golf up.

David F, 4/28/2008
Hi Michael,

Just found your site.

I have had the absolutely exact same experiences as you - right down to the various tests and guesses by doctors I visited. (They even tested for Gout!)

I am 45 and picked up the game 3 years ago. I fell in love with it and was going to the range constantly. As a result, I got a nasty case of tennis elbow from which I am still trying to recover, and starting last year, I started experiencing stiff finger problems exactly as you describe them. I also switched from 10 finger to interlocked this year, and my pinky tendon is killing me - so I will try overlap or maybe go back to 10 finger.

I also have a 38 year old friend who grew up playing the game a lot, but then stopped playing for many years. He had never had a problem with his fingers. I got him back into playing last year, and he started experiencing the stiff finger problem as well.

Neither of us played over this past winter, and sure enough, the problem went away for both of us. I have resumed my golfing for about 6 weeks now, and the stiffness is back (just right hand thus far).

I think your guesses as to the cause are very good. Too much repetitive motion and stress on the joints in a short time span, etc. I would add to this that if you are an amateur golfer and you are having a problem hitting a lot of FAT shots, you are jarring your joints far more dramatically than a professional would. I was a terrible fat shot hitter, so perhaps there is a connection here.

Thanks for the good discussion - I was also shocked to find so little data out there on the subject.

Happy golfing, hit `em straight, and don't hit `em fat!

Best, Clayton S., May 8, 2008
Update: I hit 83 and 84 last week, breaking my personal best 86. I won the 3rd place and a big trophy the week after Shell Open at Redstone during a FedEx Challenge Tournament. Last year I won the "Closest to Pin" contest during a charity tournament. So my game is definitely improving.

Fortunately, the symptoms of my stiff fingers have almost disappeared. I still must sleep with the splint. I do find it easier on my fingers if I practice my irons always with tees - less chance to hit the big ball or hit fat. I also avoid having practice or games on consecutive dates. Resting for a full day is always helpful, not only to my fingers but also to my scores.

However, I do want to point out that a few other "injuries" I have experienced ever since taking up golf: (1) I had a back injury once in 2006. I pulled the muscle on the right side of my back during a swing with a fairway wood. It took 1-2 months to cure. I thought my golf career was over. I felt thrilled it went a way. (2) In the end of 2007, I injured my right hip. There seems to be a muscle that got hurt. It hurts only when I play golf - not walking, sitting or any other normal activities. It took 2-3 months to cure. I tried all kinds of ways to cure it; but in the end I think only time made the difference. I had to take a break from golf during that time. Luckily it was in the slow winter season. (3) Recently, I have been feeling some numbness under my arms, starting from the armpit, especially my right arm. I thought it was work related, but golfing does make it worse. I can feel it in the evening after a round of golf or practice during the day. My family practice doctor suggests it may be a nerve problem related to my neck and recommended an MRI. However, I feel that the problem is related to some tight muscles under my shoulder and armpit. Whenever I squeeze these muscle, it gets worse. This is an ongoing problem.

I have bought more than 10 golf books and subscribe to both "Golf Magazine" and "Golf Digest." I don't remember reading any extensive writings on golf-related injuries. Maybe I can start a blog on each of my injuries to share with other golfers.

My goal is to break 80 this year.

--Michael, 5/10/2008
Update: I hit 82 on May 11. Then I hit 101 at South Padre Island on May 13- my first round on a sea-side course. It was very, very windy. I got 80 on May 18 - only +1 on the 2nd 9 holes (unfortunately +7 on the first).

I feel that I am on the brink of breaking 80. Not too bad for some one who has taken on golf seriously only for a little more than two years.

I saw a physical therapist last week. She quickly diagnosed my under arm numbness was caused by my spine disk in my neck pinching the nerves. Muscle problems, probably caused by golf, on my shoulder and armpit may have contributed to the problem but they are not the main cause.

She thinks my "golf finger" problem may be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrom. The tunnel and nerves get pressed by playing golf, which gets magnified during sleep. As a result, wearing a splint at night helps.

I have a new theory: maybe, this golf finger problem happens only or more frequently to people who use computers for a living - clicking on keyboards and mice for at least 3-4 hours a day. The computer usage will cause the carpal tunnel syndrome, which may get magnified by the golf ball beating. This problem may not occur that frequently to golfers who do not need to use computers on a daily basis.

I am doing a simple survey to see if this new theory holds or not. Please let me know what you think. information @

Michael, 5/24/2008
Dear Dr. Michael,

I am so glad to come across your most useful and informative article on stiff fingers caused by golfing. I am 55 years old and have just taken up golf about 5 months ago. I have totally similar experience as you had pertaining to stiff fingers in the morning. On top of that, both the last fingers of my hands have also developed "trigger finger".

I am very sure the above problems started only when I took up golf. Indeed, I also found that information pertaining to "golf fingers" is very limited and all the physicians I have come across do not seem to think that the problem is related to golf.

Thank you for sharing with us your experience. I think it is an excellent idea to start a blog on this subject matter. Let us continue to look for the cure and share with those having the same condition.

By the way, 83 & 84 are really impressive!

Enjoy your game.

Hi Michael,

Just googled your site, and found it to be a great source of information. And I also discovered that the symptoms you described regarding the stiff fingers are very similar to the ones I experienced. I'm a beginner and enjoyed going to the driving range on a regular interval and empty a few buckets. However after a while I found out my fingers were getting stiff in the morning (and also developed left-hand trigger pink).

After I paused for a several weeks, the symptoms were gone. However when I started again, they came back. I like golf too much to quit, so I take the following precautions to make sure that it doesn't get worse:

1. I try to limit my visits to the driving range (this is not easy). Instead I do some chipping and putting. I do take regular practice swing at home without a ball, and this doesn't seem to have a negative impact.

2. I play with graphite shafts, have jumbo chamois grips installed and wear a Bionic golf glove (basically I use some arthritis foundation advised products)

These things together (but especially item 1) make the stiff fingers in the morning manageable. And after a short break like a well deserved holiday (without golf), the symptoms almost completely disappear.

However I'm not convinced that the arthritis things (like the bionic glove) that I use help that much. I use those just to be on the safe side. But for people with real arthritis, these gloves for example release some pain during the game of golf. For me however, when I play golf my fingers feel better than ever (even without any glove). It is the morning after that the fingers are feeling more stiff, but during and right after an hour on the hitting on the driving range they feel great.

And since I suspect the trigger finger and stiffness are related (since they occurred at the same time), I believe the stiff fingers could be more of a tendon related issue than a joint issue. Like the combination of my grip and hitting many balls in a row, "upsets" the tendons that run through my palms of my hand what results in stiff fingers (and in a more severe case into a trigger finger). However this is just a wild theory without me having any medical background. But I just thought I would share this theory.

Again, thanks for sharing your experience on your website and good look with breaking the 80 (and although practicing the short came might not be as much fun as whacking some balls, Dave Pelz is right in stating that short came practice is the shortest path to lowering ones handicap).

Kind regards,

Peter. 5/27/2008
Survey Results: so far it's 5 for 5 - all five responded (including myself) seem to support the theory that somehow "golf fingers" are related to finger/wrist problems caused by other activities such as heavy computer usage. 4 of them are daily users of computers and 1 was a hockey player. 5/30/2008
Yes, I work at a computer, though I'm not typing all the time. I do spend a good deal of time at one though. I also play guitar, which effects my left hand which is a little stiffer than my right. My fingers are still stiff all the time, moreso in the morning. I've been to the doctor and have tried two different anti inflams but nothing has helped. The doctor thinks it's either osteo arthritis starting or inflamed tendons.

I hope your hand are better and good luck with the survey, let me know if you discover anything!

I am doing well. Thanks for asking. I am happy to tell you that I did get the trigger finger operation and it was successful. I am not in any pain anymore. I have been playing a lot of golf with no problems. In the morning I still have stiff fingers but after taking a hot shower and moving the fingers around all is ok.

Also, I stop playing hockey and I believe this was contributing factor of most of my finger pain and stiffness along with playing a lot of golf. Now I just play golf, two times a week or more and have hit the driving range when needed.

I mention the stiff fingers to my PT and she said as you get older (I am 60 year old now) they become stiff due to water buildup and it takes a while to get the fingers moving. What ever that means.

You asked about computers. My PT thinks this is good for the fingers. I must say if I am on it a lot I can see that it could present a problem. I fixed computers for a living. Sometime I am on a computer for many hours troubleshooting a problem and yes it does have an effect with the fingers.

I believe that when you do something physical for a long period of time it will have an effect on your body. I just live with it.

I do not complain about my fingers anymore. I have no reason to.

I hope all is well with you.

Take care...

-Al- 5/30/2008
yes i do work computers pretty much all day long which I dont think helps. My problem is actually improving though-possibly due to a reduction in golf but mainly through exercise. Believe it or not it came simply from pushing my son on a swing from an odd angle. I was stood to the side of him and so as he swung back my fingers were bent back slightly with him so to speak before they then pushed him forwards again. Well it seems that somehow this strecthing and then pushing back under a small moving load has helped with my problem and one hand is now pretty much ok with the other on the mend too, only took a few goes too. Obviously i'm no docotor but I this is the best explanation i have for my improvements. Phil 5/28/2008
Thanks for your quick reply. I'm working as an IT consultant, so I'm using the computer a lot (even in my spare time, so total even more than 4 hours a day). I also play the guitar, so overall my fingers/wrist have to do a lot of work. So that seems to be inline with your theory. However I never witnessed any discomfort/pain during typing, playing the guitar or playing golf. Just the stiff fingers and trigger finger in the morning after hitting many balls. And I always thought that CTS comes with pain (of the nerves being pressurred), which is why I never thought in that direction. But I'm very interested in the outcome of your mini survey.

I'll give the splint/wrist cover a try to see if that helps. Was there any particular one (brand or type) you found most helpfull?


Peter 5/28/2008
I use a pair of splint I bought from Walgreens about one and half years ago. The brand is called Mueller. These are interchangeable between left and right hands. I have been wearing them to sleep religiously. I even travel with them. The morning stiffness has abated.

Unfortunately Walgreens is no longer carrying this brand. I can't find it at CVS either. I bought another pair made by ACE to wear at work; this pair is much bulkier than the Mueller. But I don't have a choice. I assume that they are very comfortable for winter, but as you know I live in Texas. :( --Michael 5/28/2008
Hi Mike, What a pleasant surprise to receive your mail! I was in Philippines from your mail came, I just come back today.(By the way, I am from Malaysia.)

I do use computer and keyboard alot on a daily basis. However, I am very sure it has nothing to do with "golf-fingers". My golf-finger problem started only after I took up golf. During my trip to Philippines, I have checked with my friend there who is a keen golfer (49 years old) and he told me he does experience tightness of fingers too, especially in the morning. Now I try to play or practice on alternate day so that my fingers can rest. That seems to help. Best regards, Ooi
Hi Michael,

Thanks for getting back to me,and the only time i use the computer is to send and receive emails.

I have been to my GP and he just laughs and tells me that i'am doing to much. He also told me that its probably a little osteoarthritis and a lot of over use, and that if i stop playing golf for at least 6 months it would go away completely..but am i likely to do what he tells me....ummm no!!

Have you heard of a condition called mallet finger?....the symptoms of this condition is exactly the same as the golf finger... i think baseball players get it, and it is medically recognised. The reason they get it is because of the overuse and relentless practice they do.

I will conclude this with a few tips and advice.

In the last 10 months since i have been playing golf i have manage to get my handicap to a amazing 5, hence the golf fingers. There has been one great benefit i have learnt within the last month and that is to never use my left arm. To much emphasis is payed to the left arm takeaway, if you are right handed then you use your right hand,take that club away with the right and pay full emphasis in using your right hand, this is now helping my left hand recover as well as playing golf the way it should be played,not the way some coach or book tell us, if you want to find out more about this you need to learn more about hand to eye coordination and how the scottish father and his son who invented golf needed to make money out of this great game that they had invented,so what did they come up with?..they told people that you had to wear a glove on your left hand and always pay emphasis in using your left arm...what a load of money making nonsence. Please try this it really does work.


There was another thing i forgot to mention and that is that i have been playing the guitar since i was around 10 years old so my left fingers have always been getting over used. --David
Hi Michael. Thanks for you web site. I searched for the first time today about my problem with stiff fingers only in the morning. It's the end knuckle on each finger, mostly on my right hand (and I'm right-handed). The weird thing is that I have been playing golf regularly for about 4 years now, and this just started happening a few weeks ago. But, for your survey, I am a computer programmer so I work on the computer keyboard about 6-8 hours/day. I have had some carpal tunnel symptoms in the past, but I got a Microsoft "Natural" keyboard and that has pretty much eliminated that problem. I have been taking Glucosamine regularly for about 10 years now.

Personally, I don't think it's a joint problem. It seems to be that the finger muscles tighten up overnight, or maybe the tendons swell? But after 1/2 hour or so, the soreness and stiffness is pretty minimal.

I'd like to try the splint that you mentioned. If it's not available at Walgreens any more, I'll search online and see if I can find the Mueller splint somewhere.

Thanks! Bryan
Hi Michael,

Thank you so much for your insight into the golf finger blog and its reassuring to hear someone has been going through the same problem and have brought some good information behind it. I have had stiff fingers in the morning for the last couple of months and have always suspected it was due to golf. I live in the east coast and am 35 yrs old and have been playing very sporadically for the past 4 yrs and have not experienced any problems until this golf season. This season, I promised to get over the hump in my game and so have been playing more regularly these days and I'd say that I go to driving range 1/wk and play twice/wk now. I do use interlocking grip and I do get occassional discomfort in my pinkie joints/tendon. While I would prefer to keep this grip, I may have to test out the 10 finger grip as it's also good to know that your golf game has still improved quite a bit even when you made this change. A couple of other points that I'd like to make and not sure if it's related.

1. I used to have somewhat of a cupping of the wrist when I did the take back. Since I've "fixed" this and made my wrist more flat (I think I be over compensating and done the bowed "anti-cupping" wrist since I have some hooking problem now), the stiffness have gotten worse. Not sure if there's a correlation with this wrist action change or just coincidence.

2. I've been eating alot of sweets lately and not sure if this may have anything to do with this. I'm not in the medical field but saw an earlier blog about pre-diabetes and this symptom. Good reason to start laying off sweets. 3. I am an It consultant so this seems to be in line with others who have also experienced this.

I suspect that the condition we've been experiencing could be a pre-tendonitis state. In the meantime, I'll be looking for a wrist splint (hopefully can find the Mueller) and test out the grip change. Plus, "try" to play less, or just skip the driving range. I was looking at getting new clubs and aiming for the TM R7s or Cobra S9 iron shaft but may have to rethink on getting graphites. I'm going to continue to look around if I find out anything to that has a medical explanation to why this is happening.

Really appreciate your insights and pls continue to post on new developments or any extra tips.

Happy golfing!!!

Update: So far 8 for 8 in the survey - all eight people who have this "golf finger" problem are regular computer users.

A few words on the splints: what they do is to hold the wrists in an angle during sleep - holding the hands in a position that bends back slightly. They actually do not provide much support to the fingers. This may be the closest direct evidence for the theory that the golf finger problems have something to do with CTS since the carpal tunnels are very close to the wrists. By keeping the wrists slightly bent may do the trick of keeping CTS in check.

Does any one know holding the wrists in the bend position actually help CTS? I assume it does.
Hi, Michael and Thanks for giving some insight on this topic. I was introduced to golf like 4 years ago. In the summer of that year I played like five times in the golf course (18 holes ) and the last 3 years stopped playing at all just once. My buddy showed up two year ago and went to hit some golfs at the golf range at the diversey range by the lakeshore in Chicago. What a knockout on that day, because the only place available was at the far right end of the upper deck. While my buddy was swinging he hit some iron fences in front of him and the ball bounced hitting my forehead almost knocking me out - lost of blood and I got 7 stitches.

Well a few days ago I went to the lakeshore to run my 10 miles a day, trying to get in shape for the Chicago marathon. I brought along a 5 iron and a 5 wood with me to relax and hit around the park after the run. Today I went to the range and like crazy hit 200 balls in less than two hours. I was using interlocking grip and did not wear any gloves. I was hitting mostly the 5 wood club trying to hit straight and as far as I could. The gripping on the club was solid without any soft material for support. As I got home I wanted to play a little piano. I chose a soft and slow melody, "A man's Dream by Yanni." Man, how scary a feeling! I could not control my right hand fingers at all and was worse on those soft and slow intervals. I just could not extend my fingers but there was not paint just the feeling of numbness, like overworked extensor digitorum muscles ( The muscle of finger extension) on the forearm like if that set of muscles has shut down the radius nerve.

And yes I also work on computer a lot. I fix them up. Well I also play the piano at least two hours continuously a day. It is just my input now that I am having this unsettling experience in my right hand. I enjoy golf as well as playing piano and fixing computers. I don't want to give up golf, but maybe not hitting that many golf balls like crazy any more. Cheers ant thank you Dr. for your blog. It keeps getting to the point.

Capu, 7-22-2008
Dear Michael,

I came upon your blog when I was researching on finger stiffness. I'm 25 years old, which is relatively young compared to the other people who've commented on your site so far, and this problem I'm having with my left index/middle finger is beginning to worry me. Unfortunately, my finger stiffness is not just in the morning, but is there throughout the day.

I recently picked up golf about 3 months ago, and have been practicing almost on a daily basis. I've cut down on going to the practice range to every other day, but the problem persists. I'm certain my problem isn't caused by overgripping as well, since my golf instructor keeps asking me to grip slightly tighter, as I have a tendency to extend my right hand fingers out on my finish.

I wanted to share my background with you for your survey, as my job requires non stop computer usage. I've actually gone to a doctor previously as my hands were numb, but CTS was not diagnosed. I rested my hands for three days then and it cleared up. I'm convinced after reading your post and the comments by others, that there is a direct correlation between repetitive hand movement outside of golf and having this stiff finger issue. I'll acutally be changings jobs soon and will take a 1 week break from golf to see if that helps. Thanks for all the information!

Regards, Hoon, 7-25-2008
Dear Michael

Thanks so much for putting your story down in your blog - very useful and reassuring. I woke up last week with exactly the symptoms you describe (stiff knuckles at night and in morning) following 72 holes of golf and a long spell on the practise range. Furthermore, I am an extensive keyboard user. Interestingly, I have only just encountered this problem, having come back to golf after a few years off. I am 43. Everything in your article resonated with me - it was spot on


John, 7-29-2008

I have exactly the same symptoms as Michael, "rusty hands" was a very apt description. However I have never played golf. I do type all day at work and have done for 15 years or so. Never have the problem while I am typing though. The problem has gotten gradually worse. Was only very intermittent for years and only in one hand. Became much more regular (ie every night) and finally has recently spread to the other hand- such that both are now equally stiff and hard to close in the morning. Going to see a rheumatologist next week. Suspect will get same advice- osteoarthritis. I am due to give up my job soon, so will be interesting to see if a lenghty period of no typing makes a difference. --Noel, 7-30-2008
Hi have just read your blog and am relieved that I'm not alone! I have recently taken up regular golf having played occasionally over the years. After a week golfing in Spain (which included some intensive lessons) my hands are stiff and painful in the morning. It's not all fingers though - just my little finger and the one next to it. Both hands are the same though. I was interested to read the comment regarding the locked finger grip - this was a significant change to my usual grip and recommended by the golf pro. I have had finger stiffness in the past which was eased by attending a physio who said it was a result of sitting at a computer all day, not stretching properly and basically leading a sedentary lifestyle! I changed all of those things and swapped my computer mouse for a tiny mobile one that comfortably fitted into my hand (it was only this hand that was painful at that time) the problem went away. However, within days of embarking on my golfing holiday I was waking in the morning with both hands stiff.

I'll try following the advice not to go to the range too much - I have been overdoing it and see how I get on. I've got very soft grips on my clubs and having just bought a spanking new set of irons would not want to stop playing at such an early stage of my golfing life. I'm only 41 years old and feel like an oldie!

Thanks for setting up the site and to all of the contributors - it might just make a difference to a new golfer.


Sarah, 7-30-2008
I have just found your Golf Fingers article today after trying to find some info on Google re ‘stiff fingers on waking’. What a relief to find other sufferers! Although, I am disappointed that nobody has come up with a remedy yet, it is good to know we are not alone.

My husband and I have recently moved from England to Spain and both taken up golf. At the same time, we immediately developed stiff fingers on waking in the morning. We guessed it must be due to some change in our lifestyle. Was it the weather, the drinking water, our diet or the golf? My husband whose symptoms are far worse than mine ( incidentally, he plays and practises far more than I do) has been to see the doctor both in UK and Spain and they have both diagnosed Osteoarthritis, but I was not convinced. It seems so strange that it has affected us both and so suddenly. We did suspect the golf may be to blame. It is therefore a relief that we have found other sufferers.

We are both extremely keen and enthusiastic about our golf and practice on the range most days (or in the garden) and play 2 – 3 times a week. I guess we will just suffer the pain and continue, as we do not wish to give up the golf, having only recently discovered it and it has become part of our Spanish life. A pity nobody has done any research into this. Or has somebody and perhaps we just haven’t found it yet? Perhaps you might like to send all these comments to a Golf or Medical Magazine and they may like to write an article on it and maybe with a wider audience, we may find out more.

--Lesley B., 8/3/2008
This article really describes my pain as well. I mostly feel it in the middle two fingers. Don't notice it much except when trying to make a fist. I am 61 and recently started a lot of driving range practice. It is not so painful to keep me from playing. I generally take Ibuprofen for other reasons related to tennis playing but it does not seem to reduce finger issues from golf. No problem at all with left hand. --Gene E., 8/24/2008
I too found your blog when researching possible causes for my stiff morning fingers, and what I believe, though not diagnosed officially, some trigger fingers. I'm female, and 39 years old. I've been playing golf a long time, but in the last year having more time on my hands, have been playing 4 or more times a week this season and have developed similar issues with my both hands, mainly the last two or three fingers. Mornings, I can sometimes barely make a fist. It goes away in a little while. The problem does get better with a few days off, but it always returns.

Incidentally, I am also a graphic designer who spends a good deal of time on the computer. I have noticed especially today, that the last two fingers on my right hand are bothering me as I worked, my mouse hand.

I don't want to give up golf, so maybe the solution for me is to give up work! I'll be interested to see how if the situation improves over the winter though.

--Kim D., 8/28/2008
wow this is amazing

your article covers everything and every same ailment I have been complaining of all year ..

I like you have been practicing every day for 2 hours each day for about 6 months now and have had each and every injury and symptom you have described here ...

I have been looked at like some creature from outer space when I say I wake with a claw type hand each and every morning which goes away as the day develops ... my Dr said she thought it was arthritis but the blood test showed negative and all types of anti inflammation and tablets proved useless..

but I do have low testosterone and fear a low bone density too but will find out next week after tests as this week I broke a rib on my right side just thru driving range over activity and have pulled and torn the muscles in the right upper side of my back

In august I hurt myself on the left side and had to have a MRI scan to determine what was causing muscle damage and rib inflammation .. it was diagnosed with pleurisy from over active practicing on the golf range ... so thank you for sharing your symptoms and making me realize it was indeed a golf range reaction .. but please note that I think that it could be to a low bone density issue and a side effect from that .. but I will have more info next week after further tests.

please advise if any others have had this type of diagnosis or indeed injured their ribs back or rib cage areas just through driving range use ?

--Lawrence S., 12/20/2008
I am 28 years old and have been involved in the IT industry for 12 years. I am currently the director of IT and I do tons of work on the computer at work and home. I am on a computer at least 6 hours a day. I have experienced the exact same issues as you have after taking up golf as my #1 hobby. I hit at least 500 balls a week on the range and play at least 2-3 rounds of 18 holes a week. I'm the type of person that is very competitive and wants to be the best I can be at everything I do. I started golf lessons in June of 2008 and as of January 2009 I'm typically shooting in the mid 80s. Needless to say, after the lessons every week, the range, and the rounds... I play a lot of golf.

So about 2 months ago I started getting, (what I found out after scouring the internet for golf injuries) in addition to the general stiffness, what appears to be a trigger finger. It's the best way to describe what I'm experiencing almost every morning. Also, the general stiffness in my hands is relatively constant. In fact, when I close my hands to make a fist it feels like the club is still in my hand. The only finger experiencing the trigger-finger symptom is my right pinky. I am right handed. I do use an interlocking grip so that my right pinky locks with my left pointer finger. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it, but my right pinky is the only finger experiencing the trigger-finger symptoms.

In general, the symptoms are only in the morning and after a hot shower or even after running my hands through either cold or hot water (not warm or cool - it has to be cold or hot) the stiffness and trigger finger seem to be much better. I do have an overall stiffness in my forearms. I do not have back issues or neck issues. I am in overall great health. I am 6' 2" and 220 lbs. I am rarely sick and fairly active. The symptoms did not start until I started playing golf. I have not seen a doctor for any of these symptoms as they are relatively new. However, sometimes at night the pain is pretty bad. I'm not a medicine taker so I generally tough it out, but I've been considering some chondroitin for joints.

Oddly enough, I recently took 4 days off of golf (almost drove me nuts). It did significantly improve all of my symptoms. This one seems like a no-brainer - don't play so much golf!

That's my story...

--Jarrod S., 1/3/2009
UPDATE: Well, 2008 ended without me breaking 80. In the second half of 2008 I became interested in photography, which has been a distraction to my golf game. Excuses aside, breaking 80 has become my New Year resolution for 2009.

There is now no doubt that the morning finger problem is caused by playing golf too much. It's also clear that sleeping with a splint to immobilize the wrists in a natural position cures the problem effectively together with a modulation on golf practices.

What is still unknown is the mechanism for the problem and cure. Since the splint is designed for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), it can reasonably be assumed that golf makes CTS worse and thus cause the morning finger stiffness. The splint helps by releasing pressure to the tunnel nerves.

For the convenience of my fellow golf lovers, now starts to carry the Mueller splint wrist brace. This is the brand that I sleep every day. Whenever I occassionally forget to put it on, the morning stiffness returns. I sleep with them on both of my hands. If you only have this problem on one hand, you'll need only one.

--Michael, 1/5/2009
Dr. Mike:

I'm 41 and I recently took up golfing. I played a bit when I was younger (in my mid to late 20s but haven't played since then). After golfing I wake up at night with the middle and ring fingers of my right hand feeling very swollen. This lasts through the night and gets a bit better through the day. However, my fingers don't really feel better until 3 or 4 days later, without playing again. I realized that with the interlocking or overlapping grips, my ring finger tends to get copressed against the club and that is what seems to cause most of the pain. Also, while I'm hitting balls I experience pain in those same fingers.

I'm glad I found your site I've been searching for information for weeks and haven't found anything too specific. But your problem sounds exactly like mine. I just decided to switch to the 10 finger grip as it seems to take pressure off of the subject fingers. I tried out the new grip today and my fingers are now a bit swollen but they didn't hurt while I was hitting. I am going to try a glove on the right hand with 10 finger grip. Also, I have a grapite shaft driver which doesn't seem to cause any discomfort. I guess that graphite shafted irons would help also. Thanks for the info.

Atty. Ben, 1/10/2009
Very interesting article and commentary... I wanted to add my 2 cents to the other anecdotal stories of stiff morning fingers in case it helps the puzzle solving. I'm 27, never had this problem until a week ago when I started waking up every morning with stiff, painful joints that go away about an hour later and start to come back late afternoon or if I'm not doing anything. I do typically type a lot at work (something I haven't been doing since this began for unrelated reasons) but I'm not a golfer-- I've just started to learn tower bell ringing at a local church tower and noticed stiff fingers the morning after my 5th (biweekly) practice. The constant gripping and releasing of the bell rope seems to be causing a similar effect to the golf club gripping, for whatever that's worth, but there's no similar ball-hitting impact. ( for a general idea of the motions if this is unfamiliar). I have a family history of raynauds and arthritis, so I was initially (and am still) concerned about how those factors could be at play, but I'm intrigued to see so many people encountering the same symptoms...

Anyway, thanks for keeping your article up for so long.

-J, 2/24/2009
Comments: I agree with J - the gribbing motion during golf may be one of the caues for this problem - not only hitting the ball. Sometimes, I grib clubs at home without hitting balls. I can feel pressures in my fingers right after I gribbed the clubs a few times.
Hi Michael,

Great website and thanks for creating a reference point where folk with this condition can compare notes.

Like several here, I restarted golf only a few months ago after a prolonged hiatus. Everything went fine at first, then one morning I awoke with trigger pinky left hand – an injection eased that one off. After recovery I went back to the range, where I very soon developed this all 8 fingers joint pain in the morning, which usually subsides after 5 mins flexing upon waking. Nevertheless it sits there in the background all day, every day.

Notes about me:

· Self taught golfer, play 20 handicap

· Male, 40 yrs, 200lb, 5’10”, swinging 95-100 mph and use steel irons and stiff graphite driver / woods.

· My hands are not that big, so until last few weeks I knowingly used a strong grip technique for playing

· On average I hit 300 or so balls on driving range 3 times a week.

· All Driver practice shots are teed up, all others off the mat.

· My knuckle joint pains are far worse if I visit the range on consecutive days

· I use a laptop for work average 3 hours a day

My solution - after little assistance medically - was to take a course of half a dozen, weekly PGA instructor lessons.

This has highlighted that:

· Unsurprisingly, I grip my clubs way too hard

· The clubs grips are into my palms rather than across my fingers

· My hands do not act as one relaxed unit during my swing

· Suprisingly, I swing back too far to compensate the distance lost from having tensed fingers (and therefore too rigid forearms)

I am 3 weeks in now, and have slowly started adopting the PGA instructor’s ideas to change my grip of clubs, stance and swing.

My point is that maybe many with this condition can improve their comfort by taking advice whether we are correctly using these weapons of choice.

Personally I don’t want to give up golf having just discovered it again, and feeling the accompanying benefits I get in terms fitness, being outdoors more and the enjoyment of friendly competition (be it against myself on the range, or others on the greens). If I do experience alleviations in the medium to long term, I will make sure to come back and add further comment.

PS: Only thing you can be sure is that any new adjustments have one immediate result - many more “jarring” type shots (shanking, fatting, thining), and more pain. So be prepared and well-rested in advance if you intend making wholesale changes!

Happy golfing to all,

--Smithy, 3/15/2009
UPDATE: I broke 80 today - April 25, 2009. I shot 79 at Pine Crest in Houston. 6185 Yards. One under in the first 9. Three birdies. Eight pars.

I broke probably four records of mine: Total strokes in an 18-hole course (79, previous record: 80); total strokes in 9 holes (-1, previous record: 1); total number of birdies in a course (3, previous record: 2); and total number of pars and birdies (11).

About this time last year, I had my best record of 80 at the same course. It took me an entire year to break 80. The difference is my irons.

This past week I played at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Golf Club. I used a Callaway rental club set. The iron was X20. That was my first time to use X20. I felt great with that set. I shot 82 there. I told myself I need to buy a set of new Callaway. I did that yesterday. I bought a set of X22 from Golf Smith for $699 including a free wedge. Today was the first time I used this set. I took off the plastic shrink wrap on the course.

What a great set of irons. The ball goes straight and high. It goes even slightly longer than the Tommy Armor hybrid iron I was using. In the first nine holes, I made green in regulation (GIR) on every hole! That is another new record for me. I had one boggie, two birdies, and the rest of pars to make one under in the first nine.

I actually could have shot 75 today. The wind picked up in the second nine. I felt tired and more nervous realizing that I had a good chance of breaking 80. I have shot +1 in the second 9 of this course before; but I shot 8 today.

This is actually a tough course and the wind made it not a perfect day for golf. Both of my two friends who witnessed my record-breaking day and who normally shot 90's shot over 100 today.

What a beautiful golf day!

--Michael, 4-25-09

I'd like to make a few comments on Dr. Michael's article about stiff fingers being caused by golfing. I agree that his problem is directly linked to playing golf, but submit that golf is not a unique cause of this problem. I have the exact same problem and I don't play golf! I am battling it now. It is caused by any activity which causes above normal gripping. I just had hardwood floors installed in my house and I am doing the shoe molding myself. I've had to hold each piece (many) in my left hand while I sand each piece and also later while I'm painting them. Ever since I started this activity (about a week ago), I've been waking up with the exact same symptom. It is in all fingers on my left hand, and is also in my right, but only half as stiff as the left. The worst finger is my middle finger.

I can bend it down with the other hand and there is no pain, however, if I push down on the middle joint and pull up on the end (action to straighten it), I feel minor pain like it is resistant to be straightened out. As long as I just let my hand be relaxed with fingers in the curled position, I feel no pain. In the mornings, if I try to make fist by forcing the closure with my fingers muscles it almost feels like the finger joints will be pulled out of place.

Activities like hammering repetitously, carrying anything heavy which puts stress on your fingers (like carrying a heavy bucket), or even picking up and moving boxes and furniture, can cause these exact same symptoms - not just golf. The only way to get rid of the stiffness is stop those activities and let you hand rest for about a week.

Thank you, Steve V., 6/1/2009
I just read your blurb about your hand finger problem. I had searched for hands stiff in the morning and it came up with your story. I play golf however due to circumstances this summer was not able to. However I did do about 3-4 weeks of ATV riding everyday and of course it involves gripping the handle bar very tightly. I thank you for your story - I have started to take the glucosamine to see if that helps. However I am not riding the ATV anymore right now so I am hoping the problem will heal itself. Just wanted to pass along this information as it does have to do with tightly gripping whether it be a golf club or ATV handle bar. Liz W., 9/29/2009
Dr. Michael,

I am a practicing dental hygienist. Have been for 30 years. There have been times through the years that I would wake with stiff fingers. I was unable to make a fist or squeeze the shampoo bottle for the first 30 minutes or so in the morning. Eventually this phenomenon would simply go away just as it had appeared. But, I finally discovered the problem. My stiff fingers are directly related to the amount of calcium I am consuming. Too much....stiff fingers. Too little....stiff fingers.

About a year ago as I was updating the medical history of a patient who told me he suspected he had arthritis due to stiff fingers in the am. He was unable to play golf early in the day due to the fact that his fingers were so stiff. I recommended he confer with his general physician first, but to try a calcium supplement. Three days later, I received a phone call from him stating that his morning stiffness was completely gone. He is taking a low dose calcium supplement. He has been sharing this information with his golfing buddies and it seems to have helped. Now, over a year later, he is still not suffering from stiffness.

Just thought I'd share my experience. --S., 01/08/2010

I have the same symptoms you describe. And frankly, the symptoms are very similar to when I injured my achilies from running. Anyway, I think this is what ails my, and maybe your, hands:

Kathryn, 07/19/2010
Thanks for a very helpful article ( I can confirm Steve V's comment about stiff fingers arising from other types of activity than Golf.

About six weeks ago, I started doing some major clearance work on our garden, which involved a lot of chainsaw use, rooting out tree stumps, lifting heavy loads, etc. Within a week or two of starting this, I was waking up with exactly the same sore fingers described in the original article. Although I've been working in the computer industry for 25 years, and type at 100+ WPM, I've never previously experienced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or RSI, so it didn't take me long to make the connection back to my gardening work.

As I figured it out, I remembered that I had similar symtoms just over a year ago, when we originally moved house. For 2-3 weeks, I was doing a lot of heavy lifting as we juggled furniture between several households, and again, the sore fingers in the morning started about a week after I began doing that. 2-3 weeks after the heavy work was finished, symtoms went away.

Other things which ring true: my fingers feel fine within an hour or so of waking up -- often just a few minutes. Running cold water over them for a minute or two seems to help "wake them up". Sleeping with my fingers lightly closed in a fist significantly reduced the effect in the morning (I haven't tried using a splint, just will power). There is no obvious swelling around the joints either.

The only other factor that seemed relevant at the time was that we started using a new coffee machine at home, and as a result, my caffeine intake went up drastically. I did find an article online that correlated coffee intake to stiff fingers (you can find anything on the Internet if you look hard enough!) but after cutting out coffee for two weeks, there was no significant change.

Our gardening work is now almost complete, so I'm hoping the symtoms will vanish again in a few weeks. Like others, I was concerned about early arthritis or other forms of debilitating injury, so I'm very relieved to find that there is a much more positive explanation that seems to fit my situation.

Eddy C., Dublin, Ireland, 07/25/2010

WARNING: I am not a medical doctor. This blog is intended for information sharing only. It is not meant to give any medical advice. You read or use any info herein at your own risk. Always consult your own physician for any medical matters. If you have a website or forum, you are welcome to link to this page. Copying contents on this page without the author's permission is prohibited.
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