KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pickleball has become one of the most popular sports around. It’s sort of like tennis, meets ping pong, meets badminton. As its popularity increases, so does the risk of injury.
Even though pickleball was invented in 1965, it is considered the fastest-growing sport in America, and now more and more players are feeling the strain of what’s become known as “pickleball elbow.”
Edna Hartranft loves playing pickleball at the Sidney and Pauline Friedman Jewish Community Center. What she doesn’t love is Pickleball elbow, and she’s not alone.
“I started feeling the pain right around my elbow,” Hartranft told reporter Mark Hiller.
“What does it feel like when you have pickleball elbow?” Hiller asked.
“It’s a very — it can be a very sharp or dull but mostly a sharp pain right in your elbow, right in the muscles there,” said another pickleball player, Scott Smith of Forty Fort.
Pickleball elbow is similar to tennis elbow.
“I did feel it, but I think it was probably not as bad as it was when I played tennis,” said Norina Conden, a pickleball player from Wyoming Borough.
So what exactly is happening to many players’ elbow joints as they swing a pickleball paddle at the perforated polymer pickleball?
“When you use the same muscles over and over, you can inflame the muscles, the tendons,” explained doctor Andrea Klemes, the Chief Medical Officer with Medical Doctors Valued In Prevention.
Doctors say if you feel that pain in and around the elbow, stop playing, ice your elbow joint, and by all means don’t ignore the pain if it persists.
“You need to work with your primary care physician to make sure that you’re not doing any longer-term damage or chronic damage that could hurt you later on,” Dr. Klemes told Eyewitness News.
The pickleball phenomenon is growing at an unprecedented rate.
“Here we have about 40 to 50 players who come in and play so it’s very popular and we expect the number to keep growing,” said Brandon Heffelfinger, Athletic Director at JCC of Kingston.
With almost five million pickleball players nationally, you can expect doctors to see more patients who need treatment for pickleball elbow.
Hartranft takes precautions to avoid injury. She wears a brace on her right forearm just below the elbow to absorb the shock of the sport she loves.
“You’re not going to let this stop you from playing pickleball, right?” Hiller asked.
“Oh no, no, no. Only the good Lord can stop me,” Hartranft responded.
Other contributing factors to pickleball elbow include poor body mechanics while playing, and not stretching and warming up properly.
By addressing those issues, you can enjoy a sport that can otherwise be good for you physically and socially.