As more people start playing Pickleball, the injuries specific to the sport are becoming more consistent. A common complaint found among Pickleball players is Pickleball Elbow (similar to Tennis Elbow). Pickleball elbow is referred to as Lateral Epicondylitis in the medical field. It is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles due to bad mechanics, leading to pain, micro-tearing, inflammation, and weakness. This condition can be debilitating, as it can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities as well as their recreational activities.
How does this injury occur?
The forearm has multiple muscles that run from the hand/wrist up to the elbow. In this case, the muscles that lead to Pickleball Elbow are the extensor muscles of the forearm, which attach to the outside of the elbow (lateral epicondyle). Of all muscles, the Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis (ECRB) has been shown to be most affected and the source of the pain in most individuals. Repeated stress secondary to poor mechanics during the backhand motion leads to progressive micro-tearing and degeneration of the tendon.
If you are experiencing Pickleball Elbow pain, it is imperative to STOP the activity that causes the pain. This is the hardest part for Pickleball Players! However, the only way to treat this problem is to take away the stress placed on the area. In most cases, the pain starts because the player has bad mechanics in their swing when hitting a backhand, excessively relying on their wrist and causing repetitive trauma to their extensor muscles and ECRB
The treatment course should look like this:
1. Stop activity – Control pain, Heat, Ice, Massage
2. Rehab Phase 1 – manipulation of elbow and wrist, dry needling, trigger point and fascia release, compression therapy, cho-pat strap
3. Rehab Phase 2 – strengthening of forearm musculature focusing on eccentric exercises
4. Find a Coach – fix your swing mechanics in order to avoid excessive stress on your forearm and elbow, and improve your strokes
5. Return to play
If you have any questions, you can contact the Pickleball doctor at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Noe Sariban is a doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Pickleball Teaching Professional through the IPTPA, and a 5.0 rated player sponsored by Engage Pickleball. Please visit www.thepickleballdoctor.com for more information on injury prevention and rehabilitation tips. Noe started his website to provide pickleball players around the world with a reliable and free source of information. Please like his Facebook page www.facebook.com/pickleballdoctor for updates and new information.
Don’t miss the next issue of Pickleball Magazine for a complete article by The Pickleball Doctor!