Golfers hit by a new handicap

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THE GENTLE rub of checkered sweater against middle-aged skin may be the cause of a new complaint, according to doctors - Golfer's Nipple.

The new golfing handicap, identified recently at University Hospital, Nottingham, is caused by the friction generated during the interaction of swing, sweater and chest.

In extreme cases, particularly among men who are overweight, the traumatised nipple becomes a bright orange-red colour and may swell up. It is thought that in the past it may have been sometimes mistaken for other, more serious conditions.

Doctors at the hospital, who detail the condition in the British Medical Journal, say Golfer's Nipple should now be added to a list of other sporting hazards which include Rower's Rump, Tennis Elbow, Jogger's Urine, and Darter's Wrist.

Dr Eric Saihan and senior registrar Dr Irshad Zaki report the case of a 34-year-old man who came to the hospital with a tender right nipple and who at first was thought to have a serious disease.

"It became apparent that the lesion was the result of repeated trauma while playing golf. A minor modification to his swing led to complete resolution of the irritant dermatitis," they say.

They add, "Sporting activities expose the skin to a wide variety of risks, and Golfer's Nipple should be added to the list."

Professor Greg McLatchie, professor of sports medicine at Sunderland University and a keen golfer himself, says: "It is probably an irritation of the nipple caused by the rotation of the arm on the back swing which causes the clothes to rub across the nipple. It is probably most common in larger men and in women who don't wear support. For someone who plays a lot of golf it could be very sore indeed."

He details a list of complaints that might encourage even the most ardent sports man or woman to take a long course in sofa-warming.

"Jogger's Nipple is a similar type of problem, and Rower's Rump is a result of sitting on the hard seat causing pressure symptoms on the bone at the bottom of the pelvis.

"There is also runner's diarrhoea caused by the gut moving about during running, and joggers can get blood in their urine as a result of the walls ofthe bladder slapping together as they run," he says.

As if that wasn't enough, he said new research had also shown that golfers' repetitive swinging actions put them at risk from stress fractures of the ribs.