Common Pickleball Injuries
Pickleball is a racquet sport that blends the principles of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The game is played either outdoors or indoors on a badminton-sized court with a net that is similar to a tennis net. Players use a paddle that is much smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle and a plastic ball (resembling a whiffle ball). If you haven’t heard of pickleball yet, you will soon as the game continues to grow in popularity since people of all ages and skill levels can play.
Pickleball may also introduce players to injuries commonly seen in each of those activities. In addition to being susceptible to the general risks of racquet sports, pickleball players are also vulnerable to a few unique injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries seen in pickleball players.
Similar to tennis elbow, pickleball elbow — also called lateral epicondylitis — is categorized as an overuse injury. Repeatedly raising and swinging a pickleball paddle mildly strains the elbow area over time. However, performing the same motions with improper form, equipment, or training may cause micro-tears within the tendons attached to the elbow, which is why specialists popularly refer to it as pickleball elbow. Patients with pickleball elbow typically report symptoms like:
- Discomfort in the elbow that worsens during movement
- Aching and joint stiffness
- Soreness near the elbow
Pickleball requires strenuous activity that can easily lead to shoulder trauma and, potentially, rotator cuff injuries. The most common types of shoulder-related pickleball conditions, however, are strains. Overhead swings can cause the shoulder muscles to stretch and partially tear over time, which presents a range of symptoms, including:
- Motion loss or reduction
- Pain in the shoulder
- Swelling of the shoulder
- Bruising around the shoulder joint
High-impact exercise or stress to the lower leg area may affect the tissue group connecting the heel and calf, also known as the Achilles tendon. In more extreme cases of repetitive trauma, patients may develop Achilles tendinitis, a condition characterized by multiple tears within the Achilles tendon. There are two types of Achilles tendinitis: insertional — which affects the lower part of the tendon — and non-insertional — which affects the middle of the tendon. Regardless of which type a patient suffers from, Achilles tendinitis typically presents symptoms such as:
- Stiffness in the rear calf and heel area
- Pain in the lower or middle calf that increases with activity
- Swelling or thickening of the affected tendon area
Heel bruising is a fairly regular pickleball injury that also develops over time. When the pad of fat surrounding the heel bone experiences trauma from either strenuous or repetitive impact, it may sustain internal bruising. In some cases, the heel bone itself may bruise. The main symptoms of heel bruising include:
- Bruising on or inside the heel area
- Pain in the heel when walking or applying pressure
Pickleball Injury Treatment in St. Augustine
There are many benefits of playing pickleball; it’s great for socializing, it can be quickly learned and can be less demanding on the joints than tennis for many people. But, with any paddle sport, there are risks for injuries. If you’re dealing with any of the injuries listed above or another type of trauma that you believe to be pickleball related, contact the team at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine. Our staff of orthopaedists and sports medicine specialists provide the most personal kind of care to help you safely pick up pickleball again. To schedule your appointment, fill out our online request form or call 904-825-0540.
ALBERT VOLK, MD
Board certifications in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Dr. Volk specializes in an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of the shoulder.
KURTIS HORT, MD
Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Dr. Hort specializes in reconstructive procedures of the foot and ankle.