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This year marks the 58th anniversary of America’s fastest-growing sport, pickleball. With over 36 million pickleball players in the United States, Illinois ranks in the top 10 for the number of pickleball locations with 396.

As the weather warms up this spring and more people hit the pickleball court, CORE Orthopedics and Sports Medicine wants to help you avoid serious injuries.

Are Pickleball Injuries Common?

Pickleball is the combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Easy to learn and low-impact, the sport has quickly become a popular activity for people 55 and older (52% of core pickleball players are 55 and older).

The benefits of pickleball go beyond just the physical: recent studies have revealed that the socialization of pickleball contributes to improved life satisfaction. Pickleball has been shown to lower levels of depression in older adults.

With the risk of social isolation increasing as people get older, it’s crucial to keep pickleball players healthy and on the court.

One of the most quoted studies identified 19,000 pickleball injuries in 2017, with 90% of them affecting people aged 50 and older. 85% of all pickleball-related hospital visits were among players 60 and older.

Before the next time you step onto the pickleball court, take a look at some of the most common pickleball injuries and our how-to-guide on how to prevent them from ruining your spring.

Are Pickleball Injuries More Common Than Tennis Injuries?

In 2023, it’s reported that “the cost of pickleball-related injuries in 2023 will climb to $377 million, with the majority due to out-patient care.” That number continues to rise as more and more people get involved on the pickleball court, but when it comes to the number and severity of injuries, is pickleball worse than tennis?

From 2010-2019, the number of injuries in tennis remained steady, yet the total of pickleball injuries increased yearly. That’s partly because the older demographic that plays pickleball continues to age, making them more likely to be injured than their younger counterparts.

With all of that, the answer to whether or not pickleball injuries are more common than tennis injuries is the result of a couple of different things. 

The first is that there is a much lower bar to play pickleball, which could lead to people being more easily injured. The second is that the player base for pickleball skews older, again, part of the reason why there are more pickleball injuries than tennis injuries.

How Hard Is Pickleball On Your Body?

The question of whether pickleball is hard on the body depends on several factors, including a player’s age, fitness level, playing style, and whether they have any pre-existing conditions.

Because of the quick movements, changes in direction, and repetitive nature of the sport, there are a lot of pickleball injuries every year. A lot of these injuries affect the lower body of participants.

But compared to other racquet sports, pickleball is low-impact and accessible to a broader range of individuals, including those recovering from injuries or who are not regularly active. Studies have also shown pickleball improving cardiovascular health over time.

The key is understanding your body’s limitations. If you are struggling with an injury or a pre-existing condition, pickleball might be harder on your body, so you must include warm-ups, cool-downs, and stretches as part of your routine.

Is Pickleball Hard On Your Joints?

The answer, unfortunately, depends entirely on your body. The repetitive swinging and shifting motions can cause pain in your elbows and knees, but pickleball isn’t entirely hard on your joints.

If you’re playing at a higher level, those motions may catch up to you over time if you’re not paying attention to pain signals. But for folks playing casually, don’t stress too much about your joints because pickleball is relatively easy on them.

Common Pickleball Injuries

Pickleball Elbow

Pickleball elbow is a type of overuse injury that affects the elbow joint, specifically the tendons and muscles that attach to the lateral epicondyle (outer bony prominence) of the humerus bone in the upper arm.

The medical term for this is lateral epicondylitis, also commonly referred to as tennis elbow (and now pickleball elbow).

Lateral epicondylitis occurs when the tendons and muscles that extend the wrist and fingers become inflamed due to repetitive or forceful movements, causing pain and tenderness in the outer elbow. 

Often, repetitive backhand shots with poor mechanics result in elbow pain, but this condition can result from any activity that involves repetitive gripping, twisting, or lifting.

Symptoms of pickleball elbow include pain and tenderness on the outer elbow, weakness in the wrist and hand, and limited range of motion in the elbow joint.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, becomes inflamed and irritated. 

This condition can result from overuse or repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon. Pickleball movements such as quick side steps, jumping, and pivoting put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendon. 

Over time, this can lead to small tears in the tendon, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected area.

Harris said, “A good rule of thumb is to stop your forward movement and plant your feet when your opponent is about to make contact with the ball. Unnecessary foot movement can lead to falls and injury.”

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include pain and stiffness in the back of the ankle, swelling, and tenderness in the affected area. 

In severe cases, the Achilles tendon may rupture, which requires immediate medical attention.

Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone and help to stabilize the shoulder joint.

Rotator cuff injuries occur when these muscles or tendons become strained or torn, which can cause pain, weakness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder.

Rotator cuff injuries happen in pickleball due to repetitive overhead motions such as swiping or slicing the ball. 

Rotator cuff injuries are the most common pickleball injuries, especially for those playing at a high intensity or for extended periods of time. Poor form or technique can also contribute to the risk of injury.

Be aware that common rotator cuff injury symptoms include pain or tenderness in the shoulder, weakness or difficulty lifting your arm, limited range of motion, popping or clicking sensation when moving your arm, and shoulder stiffness.

How Can You Avoid Pickleball Injuries?


Warm-up exercises increase blood flow to the muscles, helping reduce the risk of muscle strains or tears. Additionally, stretching improves flexibility and range of motion, making it easier to move around the court and reach for shots during the game.

For the legs, basic stretches like lunges or leg swings loosen up the muscles and prepare them for the explosive movements required in pickleball. 

Hip stretches like hip circles or figure-four stretches improve mobility and reduce the risk of hip injuries. 

Shoulder and arm stretches like arm circles or shoulder rotations work the upper body and prepare it for overhead shots and other movements on the court.


R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, helps reduce swelling and speed up healing. 

After a game of pickleball, it’s essential to take a break and avoid putting excessive strain on any sore or injured areas. This includes resting or putting together a cool-down routine with some of the abovementioned stretches.

If you’re feeling pain, apply ice to any sore or injured areas to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Alternate applying the ice on and off for about 20 minutes at a time.

Wrapping the affected pain area with an elastic bandage or compression sleeve provides support and reduces swelling.

Lastly, elevating any pain area above the heart level can help reduce swelling by promoting the drainage of excess fluid.

Stay On The Pickleball Court With CORE Orthopedics

CORE Orthopedics is Chicagoland’s premier comprehensive orthopedic services and physical therapy for the entire family. Our team of surgeons has decades of experience in same-day surgery techniques to make sure you spend less time in the hospital and more time out on the pickleball court.

If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, call CORE at (847) 690-1776, or contact one of our two locations online: Elk Grove Village and Hoffman Estates.

Location Information

Elk Grove Village

555 Biesterfield Road Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007 (847) 690-1776  


Hoffman Estates

2380 Lakewood Blvd. Hoffman Estates, Illinois 60192 (847) 690-1776

Core Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Surgical Affiliations

Physician and Orthopedic Surgeon in Geneva
Geneva Surgical Suites

119 Elizabeth Ln., Genoa City, WI 53128

Phone: 262-295-1213

Alexian Brothers Medical Center

800 Biesterfield Rd.

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

Phone: 847-437-5500


St. Alexius Medical Center

1555 Barrington Rd.

Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

Phone: 847-843-2000


Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

450 West Highway 22

Barrington, IL 60010

Phone: 847-381-0123


Call (847) 979-9214 today for a Consultation