Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023



Players can suffer various injuries if they are not careful

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, you probably know someone who has picked up one of America’s newest sports – Pickleball! Everyone seems to be picking up a racquet and learning how to play this fun game. Whether playing at Southern Hills, getting lessons at Querbes, or having fun at Pierremont Oaks, everyone is hitting the court for a fun time with friends.

Although pickleball is not quite as active as tennis and other racquet sports, it can still be quite competitive and require the participants to hustle and bolt for a ball. Certain activities and movements can cause injury and harm if one is not careful. Hence, I wanted to give an overview of a few common pickleball injuries and some tips for their prevention and treatment to keep you on the court – and out of my office!

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common overuse injury in pickleball players. It occurs when the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle (the bony bump on the outside of the elbow) become damaged and inflamed. This can cause pain, swelling and weakness in the arm and wrist.

Prevention: Make sure you warm up your forearm before playing. Try to strengthen your forearm muscles and avoid overuse. Consider getting a pickleball racquet with a larger grip; if this is not available, overwrap your grip to make the grip larger to give your forearm muscles a break.

Treatment: Anti-inflammatories and ice are excellent first-line treatments for tennis elbow. Medicines such as Advil or prescription medication like Celebrex should be used. A “cho-pat” strap is a special brace used to treat tennis elbow; it wraps around the forearm to help with the pain. These cho-pat straps are readily available at Dick’s or Academy. You may also order these online from Amazon.

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are common injuries in pickleball players, especially when making a quick movement. The most common way this happens is by an inversion mechanism on a plantar-flexed foot. This can cause pain, swelling and bruising to the outside of the ankle.

Prevention: Make sure you are wearing appropriate athletic shoes when playing pickleball. These shoes should support you and allow for agile movements. Try to strengthen the muscles around your ankle with single-leg exercises that work on balance and proprioception. Finally, if you are prone to ankle sprains, consider buying a lace-up ankle brace and wearing it during pickleball to prevent any future injury.

Treatment: The old wisdom of RICE for ankle sprains still holds true. Rest, ice, compression and elevation are key. But believe it or not, you do not want to be down too long after an ankle sprain. If you sprain your ankle, you should get into physical therapy quickly to start working on ankle range-of-motion and strengthening exercises instead of staying off your feet for weeks.

Knee Injuries

People also, unfortunately, can injure their knees while playing pickleball. This can range from a simple sprain or strain of a hamstring to patellar tendonitis to even a meniscal tear. A meniscal tear can happen during a specific pivot motion or a fall. In contrast, ailments like patellar tendonitis are typically overuse long-term injuries caused by simply playing too much pickleball and not resting.

Prevention: Like ankle sprains, prevention centers around proper footwear and conditioning. You must stretch ahead of time and warm up your muscles to lessen your chance of injury. If the pace of play is too fast, causing potential harm, consider changing partners and slowing the pace of play to minimize the risk of falling.

Treatment: Treatment for knee injuries depends on the injury sustained. Rest, ice and anti-inflammatories are the first-line treatment for tendonitis/overuse injuries. Bracing is another great option; specific braces are made to address specific problems in the knee. However, if you did something like tear your meniscus, you might require a steroid injection to help get rid of the pain.

In conclusion, while pickleball is a lowimpact sport, players are still at risk for certain injuries due to the repetitive motions involved in the game. To prevent these injuries, it’s important to use proper technique, warm up before playing, strengthen the muscles used in the game, and avoid overuse and falls. If you experience pain or discomfort while playing pickleball, it’s essential to seek medical attention to prevent further injury.

Jeffrey Pearson, M.D. is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in anterior total hip replacement and robotic knee replacement. To schedule an appointment, visit https:// orthopedicspecialistsla.com/ or call 318-635-3052.


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