Dr. Mark E. Pruzansky
Dr. Jason S. Pruzansky
975 Park Avenue New York, NY 10028

Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball Injuries: Staying Safe and Injury-Free on the Court

Pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has been gaining popularity among people of all ages. This low-impact, easy-to-learn game is an excellent way to stay active and socialize. However, like any physical activity, pickleball comes with the risk of injuries. In this article, we will explore the common types of injuries associated with pickleball, offer prevention strategies, and discuss treatment options to ensure you can enjoy the game safely and reduce the risk of injuries.

Common Types of Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball is generally considered a low-risk sport when it comes to injuries, but it’s not entirely injury-proof. Here are some common types of injuries that pickleball players may encounter:

  • Sprains and Strains: Quick movements, sudden stops, and changes in direction can lead to sprained joints or strained ligaments and muscles.
  • Fractures: Although fractures are relatively rare in pickleball, falls or collisions can result in broken bones, most commonly in the wrist or arm.
  • Overuse Injuries: Playing pickleball repeatedly without proper rest can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendinitis in the elbow or wrist, or stress fractures.

The most common Pickleball injuries we see to the hand and the wrist at HSSI are:

  • Colles Fracture of the Wrist: A Colles fracture, sometimes referred to as a distal radius fracture, is one of the most frequent injuries among pickleball players. This injury occurs when there’s a break in the radius bone in the forearm, near the wrist joint. Typically, it happens due to a fall onto an outstretched hand during play. The force of impact can cause the radius bone to fracture, resulting in pain, swelling, and sometimes deformity. While some Colles fractures can be treated non-surgically with casting after closed reduction, more severe cases may require surgical intervention. Surgery involves realigning the fractured bone fragments and securing them with pins, plates, or screws to facilitate proper healing.
  • Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow): Lateral epicondylitis, often known as tennis elbow, is another common injury pickleball players may encounter. This condition involves inflammation or small tears in the tendons that attach to the outer part of the elbow. The repetitive swinging motion used during pickleball play, especially when delivering powerful shots, can strain these tendons. As a result, players may experience pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow. Tennis elbow can typically be managed with conservative treatments such as rest, ice, physical therapy, and the use of an elbow brace. In some cases, corticosteroid injections or, rarely, surgery may be recommended for more severe or persistent cases of tennis elbow.

Treatment Options and Recovery from Pickleball Injuries

While pickleball is a relatively safe sport, injuries can still occur. If you find yourself injured on the pickleball court, it’s essential to know how to respond effectively:

Immediate Care

For minor injuries such as sprains or strains, it’s crucial to initiate the right steps immediately to minimize damage and discomfort. Follow this protocol:

  • Rest: Cease the activities that caused the injury. Rest the affected area to prevent further damage and allow the healing process to begin.
  • Ice: Apply ice to the injured area as soon as possible. This helps reduce swelling and numbs the area, offering pain relief. Be sure you wrap the ice pack in a thin cloth to prevent frostbite and apply it for 10-15 minutes at a time, every 2 hours in the initial 48 hours.
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured limb, if possible, to reduce swelling. Ideally, keep it in a splint or sling elevated above heart level to encourage the drainage of excess fluids away from the injured site.

Seek Medical Attention

If you suspect a significant injury, such as a fracture, or if the pain and discomfort are significant, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Do not attempt to “walk it off” or play through the pain. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent complications and ensure a faster recovery.

A hand surgeon will perform a thorough examination, which may include X-rays or other imaging tests to assess the extent of the injury accurately. Depending on the diagnosis, they will recommend an appropriate treatment plan.


Rehabilitation plays a vital role in the recovery process after a pickleball injury. If your injury requires it, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for rehabilitation, which may include:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is often prescribed to help you regain strength, flexibility, and mobility. A skilled physical therapist will create a customized rehabilitation program tailored to your specific injury and needs.
  • Exercises: You may be given a set of exercises to perform at home to strengthen the injured area and improve range of motion. Consistency and adherence to your exercise routine are essential for a successful recovery.
  • Gradual Return to Activity: As you progress in your recovery, it’s crucial to avoid rushing back into the game. Returning to pickleball too soon can increase the risk of re-injury. Listen to your body and focus on rehabilitation. Once you receive clearance from your healthcare provider, gradually reintroduce pickleball into your routine. Start with low-intensity drills and short games, gradually increasing the duration and intensity as your strength and confidence return.

Pickleball Injury Prevention Strategies and Safety Tips

Preventing pickleball injuries starts with taking proactive measures to protect yourself on the court. Here are some safety tips and strategies to reduce your risk of injury:

  • Warm-Up: Always start with a proper warm-up routine before playing. Gentle stretching and light aerobic exercises can prepare your muscles and joints for more strenuous activity.
  • Technique Matters: Learn and practice proper technique. This includes footwork, paddle control, and positioning on the court. Good technique not only improves your game but also reduces the risk of injury.
  • Protective Gear: Consider wearing protective gear such as elbow supports, wrist guards, and proper court shoes. These can provide support and protection during play.
  • Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can lead to fatigue and an increased risk of injury. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your games.
  • Take Breaks: Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Overexertion can lead to overuse injuries. Resting between games or sets can help prevent fatigue-related injuries.

Let HSSI help you with your Pickleball injury

Pickleball is a fun and engaging sport that provides numerous health benefits. While injuries are a possibility, following safety tips, practicing good technique, and knowing how to respond to injuries can significantly reduce your risk. 

Enjoy the game, stay safe on the court, and prioritize your well-being. Remember, pickleball is about having fun and staying active, and by taking precautions, you can continue to do just that for years to come.

If you believe you have a fracture or tear from Pickleball, please contact HandSport Surgery Institute immediately to schedule a QuickCare consultation with Dr. Mark Pruzansky or Dr. Jason Pruzansky