Pickleball injuries on the rise, local doctor shares how to prevent them

One of the country's fastest growing sports could send you to the hospital.
Published: Jul. 3, 2023 at 8:27 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Picking up a new hobby is always fun, and if that hobby gets you moving, then that’s even better. That may be one reason why pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America.

Although some players may be moving too fast, the evidence shows in the number of pickleball players getting hurt.

“All the body’s ligaments and tendons, they need to be warmed up and mobilized in the course of a couple months, not a couple days,” said Dr. Rishi Bala, a sports medicine physician at the Bon Secours Training Center in Richmond.

A new UBS report says pickleball injuries may cost Americans nearly $400 million in health care costs. The majority are sprains, strains and fractures.

Dr. Bala says he’s spotted the trend and knows why wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries are more common than others in pickleball.

“It’s a shorter court, so it’s a lot easier to catch yourself,” Dr. Bala explained.

The same study found that most of the injuries happen in people over 60, accounting for 86% of pickleball-related emergency room visits.

“Unfortunately, with these seniors, they have more fragile bones, and we see more fractures in that area,” said Bala.

The analysts estimated that pickleball injuries will account for 67,000 emergency room visits, nearly 400,000 trips to the doctor and 9,000 outpatient surgeries just this year.

Dr. Bala said he was not surprised.

“I can imagine that a lot more of the population being involved in it, we’ll see more injuries as it goes,” he said.