Needlework Can Save a Senior’s Golf Game

Some years ago, I took a train to New York City from Connecticut in advance of a flight to Myrtle Beach, where I was to meet my family in Pawleys Island. As the train pulled into Grand Central Station, I arose from my seat and almost collapsed to the floor as my right knee gave out without warning. I limped around the city for a few hours before flying south, petrified that my planned golf vacation was in serious jeopardy.

On the recommendation of a neighbor in Pawleys Island, I made an appointment with a local orthopedic group. An X-ray showed some light arthritis in my knee and the doctor suggested a cortisone shot might ease my pain enough to play golf. “I expect you may need another shot in a year or so,” he told me.
That was 14 years ago and, despite an occasional dull pain in the knee, I have not come close to the pain I had before the shot. (I was on the golf course two days after the shot.) Three years ago, a physician’s assistant in the same ortho practice shot some cortisone into my other knee when it began to act up. “We can give you another shot in six months when the pain is likely to return,” he said. It hasn’t yet.

I thought about the orthopedic practice’s needle work last week when I returned there for a diagnosis and treatment of persistent pain at the base of both my thumbs. The pain was not affecting my golf game yet, but simple activities like turning an ignition key or a water faucet would send pain shooting up my thumb. I feared that, as the pain worsened, it would be harder to play golf.

I suspected arthritis because I had the same symptoms in both hands, an amateur’s diagnosis that was confirmed by X-rays. The hand specialist suggested a few approaches – from consistent use of ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) all the way to surgery. The pain relievers are a non-starter for me; I’ve had heart surgery and my cardiologist has warned me off ibuprofen because of its blood-thinning qualities. Given my prior experience, the mid-term solution – cortisone injections at the base of both thumbs – appealed to me.

Afterwards, the doctor cautioned that, “You will probably hurt for the next three days, and then I will know in about three weeks if the shots worked.” The pain has been slight over the first three days, and I am hoping that the three-week mark will bring blessed relief. My body apparently reacts well to cortisone.

We have an entire chapter about staying fit to play golf in our book, Playing Through Your Golden Years: A Senior’s Golfing Guide, co-authored by me and Brad Chambers, whose blog site Shooting Your Age, focuses on senior golfers. The book is available in electronic form for $3.99 from Amazon.