Common Injuries in Pickleball: Prevention and Treatment

Published: Thursday, November 16, 2023
Brett Meeks

Pickleball, the popular racquet sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has been gaining widespread attention. While it’s a fun and engaging activity for people of all ages, like any sport, pickleball carries the risk of injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries associated with pickleball, as well as tips on prevention and treatment.

Sprains and Strains

One of the most prevalent injuries in pickleball is sprains and strains, often occurring in the ankles, wrists, or shoulders. These injuries can happen due to sudden movements, improper warm-up, or overexertion during the game.

Prevention: Proper warm-up exercises, including stretching and light cardio, can significantly reduce the risk of sprains and strains. Wearing supportive footwear and using appropriate paddles can also help.

Treatment: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) are key components of treating sprains and strains. Additionally, over the counter medications including Tylenol, anti-inflammatories and topical creams can help provide relief. It’s essential to give the injured area ample time to heal before returning to the game.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the outer part of the elbow. Repetitive arm movements, such as those in pickleball, can lead to this injury.

Prevention: Using proper techniques and paddles with the right grip size can reduce the strain on your elbow. Strengthening exercises for the forearm muscles can also help prevent tennis elbow.

Treatment: Rest, physical therapy, and wearing a brace to support the affected arm are common treatments for tennis elbow. In severe cases with failure of conservative treatment, medical intervention might be necessary.

Shoulder Injuries

The repetitive overhead motions in pickleball can lead to shoulder injuries, including bursitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, biceps tendonitis, labral tearing and even rotator cuff tearing.

Prevention: Strengthening shoulder muscles and practicing proper serving and hitting techniques can prevent shoulder injuries. It’s essential to maintain good posture and avoid overexertion during the game.

Treatment: Rest, ice, over the counter medication, injections and physical therapy are typical treatments for pickleball shoulder injuries. In some cases, advanced imaging and even surgery might be required for severe injuries.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries, such as ligament tears, meniscal injury, and cartilage damage can occur due to sudden movements, falls or improper landing after jumps.

Prevention: Wearing supportive shoes can help prevent knee injuries. Strengthening leg muscles and practicing proper landing techniques can also reduce the risk.

Treatment: Rest, ice, over the counter medication, injections, and physical therapy are common treatments for knee injuries. In severe cases, further imaging and even surgery might be necessary.

While pickleball is a fantastic sport for physical activity and social engagement, players need to be mindful of the potential injuries. By following proper techniques, warming up adequately, wearing appropriate gear, and seeking medical attention when needed, pickleball enthusiasts can enjoy the game while minimizing the risk of injuries. Stay safe and have fun on the pickleball court!

If you are experiencing pain from pickleball or another sports related injury, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgery and sports medicine providers today!