Watch CBS News

Pickleball injuries growing as sport's popularity rises

As pickleball gets more popular, injuries get more common
As pickleball gets more popular, injuries get more common 02:16

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pickleball is now the fastest-growing sport in the United States with more than 5 million players across the country. But as more people are playing, doctors are seeing a surge in pickleball-related injuries. 

Sprains, strains and fractures are the most common injuries linked to pickleball, but its popularity continues to soar and has now even reached a new kind of celebrity status. 

Jackie Montemarano started playing pickleball during the COVID-19 pandemic and now she can't stop. 

Pickleball has exploded in popularity and so have the injuries. 

"My whole knee was swollen, I had pain in the knee, pain in my hip," Montemarano said. 

It's played on what looks like a smaller tennis court. There is a lot of stopping, starting and quick movements.

With special attention to the so-called kitchen area on either side of the net that's a non-volley zone. 

"Those abrupt movements can put a lower extremity at risk because they plant and turn," Dr. Stephen Stache with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute said. "That force then strains the calf or Achilles, causing the ankle to roll." 

DStache says in addition to leg and back injuries, pickleball can also be tough on elbows and shoulders. 

"It's very popular in the more senior population," Stache said. 

A report in the Journal of Emergency Medicine estimates there are about 19,000 pickleball injuries per year with 90% of them affecting people 50 and older. 

"It's sometimes very forceful movements on your joints," Montemarano said. 

Montemarano had fluid drained from her knee along with gel injections and a cortisone shot. 

Doctors say warming up and stretching before and after your play will help prevent injuries and lessen Stache's growing number of pickleball patients. 

"I often make a joke with my patients," Stache said. "I come in the room and I say I love pickleball, pickleball pays my bills." 

Pickleball is so popular now, it's getting its own all-star celebrity tournament. 

Stephen Colbert & Funny or Die have teamed up for Pickled, a new sports comedy special with celebrities competing for the coveted Colbert Cup.

The two-hour sports comedy special, PICKLED, airs this Thursday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. on CBS, and is available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.