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An Orthopedic Surgeon’s Guide to Pickleball Injuries

The pickleball movement has exploded with more than 36 million people playing the sport. Pickleball is gaining popularity because it’s easy to learn and fairly inexpensive to play. It combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton.

While it is generally considered a low-impact sport, like any physical activity, injuries can occur, and we are seeing more and more people with orthopedic injuries from playing pickleball. An orthopedic injury from pickleball often involves the muscles, joints, and bones.

Here are several common orthopedic injuries associated with pickleball:

Sprains and Strains

Quick lateral movements and changes in direction on the pickleball court can lead to ankle and knee sprains. Overexertion and improper warm-up can also lead to strains in various muscles, most commonly the groin, quadriceps or hamstrings. Most of the sprains and strains are mild and only require rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). More severe sprains and strains that involve a torn or damaged ligament, or a muscle rupture may need surgery.

Shoulder Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can come from repetitive overhead motions, such as serving. Rotator cuff tears can be full tears and partial tears. Overhead movements can also lead to impingement of the shoulder tendons, causing pain and inflammation. At OrthoEdge, we offer minimally invasive arthroscopy and REGENETEN treatments for qualifying rotator cuff tears.

Knee Injuries

Jumping and sudden stops can lead to inflammation of the patellar tendon, causing pain in the front of the knee. The patellar tendon connects the bottom of the kneecap (patella) to the top of the shinbone (tibia). Inflammation in this tendon is called patellar tendinitis and causes weakness to the tendon and can also cause small tears. This injury is common in runners, skiers, and cyclists, and is known by some as the “jumpers’ knee.”

Twisting or pivoting movements may also result in tears of the meniscus, which is a c-shaped piece of rubbery cartilage that serves as a shock absorber between your thigh and shin bones. To help cushion and stabilize the knee, each knee has two menisci. If you are experiencing knee pain, swelling, popping in the knee joint or feel like your knee is giving way, you may have a torn meniscus. If your knee is swollen, unstable, or the pain and discomfort are affecting how your knee functions in some way, it’s time to schedule an appointment with the orthopedic experts at OrthoEdge.

Fractures

Although less common, traumatic incidents or falls on the pickleball court can result in fractures, particularly in the wrist, arm, and ankle. The treatment will depend on the severity of the fracture, and may include casting, fracture reduction, and/or surgical stabilization.

Overuse Injuries

Frequent gripping of the paddle may contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, causing numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers. Further, to reduce friction and cushion the pressure points between your bones and tendons, your joints are surrounded by fluid-filled sacs (bursae). Bursae are found in your knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and ankles. When the sacs get inflamed, it can cause swelling and pain, and also reduce your mobility. If rest and elevation don’t help, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or a combination of both may be prescribed. Surgery may be required, but it is not as common.

To help reduce the risk of orthopedic injuries sustained while playing pickleball, you can take the following precautions:

  • Proper Warm-up: Adequate warm-up and stretching before playing pickleball can help prepare your muscles and joints for the physical activity.
  • Technique and Form: Ensuring that you are using the proper technique and form in strokes and movements can help reduce stress on your joints and muscles.
  • Footwear: Wearing appropriate footwear with good ankle support can help prevent injuries while playing pickleball.
  • Conditioning: Maintaining overall fitness and incorporating strength and flexibility exercises can also help prevent injuries.
  • Rest and Recovery: Adequate rest between playing sessions and listening to the body can help prevent overuse injuries from playing pickleball.

We Can Help with Orthopedic Injuries from Playing Pickleball

If an injury occurs while you are playing pickleball, it is important to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.  Our highly skilled orthopedic surgeons are fellowship trained and board certified. We have extensive training with sport related injuries, as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

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Contact us in an emergency!

If you need to contact a physician about an urgent matter after hours or on the weekends, you can contact us through our phone service after hours at (904) 204-5000.