Pickleball Elbow – Symptoms, Causes

January 21, 2023
Read Time:7 Minute, 47 Second

Over the years, pickleball grew in popularity. Millions of players play pickleball with passion. However, playing this sport for too long has its consequences. Although it is beneficial as good cardio, it can cause serious injury. One of the most particular is the Pickleball elbow. In medical terms, it is known as lateral epicondylitis. Moreover, it is due to the constant use of forearm muscles. Thus, it can lead to tearing and inflammation of muscles causing excruciating pain. What’s more, if not treated properly, this can cause permanent damage. Therefore, making it difficult for players to perform various daily tasks and play sports. 

If you are one of those players who has suffered from it, you may know how painful this injury gets.

This pickleball article covers the following on pickleball elbow

  • Symptoms of pickleball elbow
  • Causes of pickleball elbow
  • Treatment of pickleball elbow
  • Frequently Asked Questions

According to New York Times, 

“Pickleball injuries were on the rise even before the pandemic. One analysis, published in 2019 in The Journal of Emergency Medicine, estimated that there were 19,000 pickleball injuries in 2017, with 90 percent of them affecting people 50 and older.”

New York Times

Sign And Symptoms of Pickleball Elbow

If you are a pickler and are afraid that you might be suffering from pickleball elbow, look out for the following signs and symptoms:

  1. First, you are likely to experience some pain in the outer elbow and the bone of the elbow.
  2. In addition to that, you will have problems like not being able to shake hands, hold anything, or lift.
  3. Last, you will experience some soreness and pain in your forearm and wrists.

Causes of Pickleball Elbow 

The main cause of pickleball elbow is repeated motions. Thus, a player ends up overusing their muscles. The muscles that suffer strain are the forearm’s extensor muscles. Further, these are attached to the lateral epicondyle (outer elbow). Overuse of forearm muscles leads to the strain that causes pickleball elbow. The most affected are the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscles. 

To elaborate further, the overuse is because of the repeated motions during the game. A pickler is more likely to be the victim of pickleball elbow. Who are we kidding? Once you start playing pickleball, there is no stopping you from going to the court. Some repetitive motions like swinging the pickleball paddle for the backswing and backhand shots lead to pickleball injury. What’s more, poor mechanics of the motions is not safe for your tendons. As a result, your tendons suffer from micro-tears and inflammation. 

It is recommended to stop playing, and give some rest to your muscles as soon as you start noticing the symptoms. 

Best Treatments For Pickleball Elbow

For any pickleball player, having an injury is worrisome. A professional player might believe their pickleball career is coming to an end. What’s more, despite the complications, there are some treatments. We have some treatments that have been shown to be effective. 

Stop Playing And Take a Rest

First, if you have just started to feel the pain, give yourself a break and stop playing. With some time, your pickleball elbow injury may get better.  

Put Some Ice On Your Elbows

Furthermore, put ice on your elbows for 15 minutes every 4 hours. This is efficient in reducing the swelling of your elbows. But, make sure to use cloth for that.

Use an Elbow Brace

Using an elbow brace is a wise option if you want your injury from progressing. Elbow Braces help with the pressure on the forearm muscles. Therefore less pressure is applied to the tendon that is injured in the elbow.

We have got some best elbow braces well-known in the market.

Pickleball Elbow - Symptoms, Causes - Mueller Elbow Support
  1. Mueller Elbow Support 4521

One of the best things about this elbow brace is its support and compression. Further, it is made of neoprene material that not only helps with the pain but also provides heat to the tendon. However, if you are allergic to rubber latex or neoprene, you should avoid using these. Since they are adjustable, they provide the best compression with a full range of motion.


Pickleball Elbow - Symptoms, Causes - Performance Elbow Sleeve
  1. The OS 1st ES3 Performance Elbow Sleeve

This elbow sleeve is best known for its comfort and pain-reducing qualities. Thanks to its Compression Zone Technology, this OS 1st ES3 Performance Elbow Sleeve provides you ultimate comfort during the game. In addition, it is lightweight; you would not feel it. If you are worried about sweating, the material helps reduce moisture immediately. You can say goodbye to swollen elbows.

Pickleball Elbow - Symptoms, Causes - Elbow Sleeve
  1. The OS 1st ES6 Performance Elbow Sleeve

This elbow sleeve is best for preventing any pickleball or tennis injury without affecting performance. Moreover, the OS1st ES6 elbow compression sleeve maintains a free range of motion. Furthermore, it is great for circulation boost and support. Hence, speeding up recovery. It is lightweight and aids in supporting tendons and joints. Thanks to the hypoallergenic gel, the sleeve is fixed on your arm during the game.

Fix Your Mechanics

The way you use your mechanics on the court is important. Using mechanics poorly is an important cause of pickleball elbow. Below are some tips to keep in mind before you play pickleball.

  1. Pickleballs should be hit out in front of you.

Hitting the ball out in front of you will help relieve the pressure on your elbow. Further, since this requires you to use your core and legs, you can still hit with power. Hitting from behind the body will put greater strain on your elbow.

  1. Holding your pickleball paddle with a loose grip

Secondly, to avoid any injuries like a pickleball elbow, it is better to let go of grip pressure. Moreover, focus on holding with your fingers rather than your palm. As a result, this will help relieve the pressure from the elbow. Once you have a loose grip, you will find yourself having better control over your shots.

  1. Move around. 

Moving around the court will put you in a position to strike with consistent contact points. Thus, this will help hit the ball out in front of you. Hence, less pressure on your elbow avoiding pickleball elbows. 

  1. Avoid your backswing

It is beneficial to go with a short backswing. As mentioned above, it will help you hit the ball out in front of you rather than behind your body. Hence, taking a short backswing will put less pressure on your elbows.

  1. Use your shoulders for swinging and not your wrists and elbows.

Lastly, if you are looking to avoid pickleball elbows this one is really important. Using your shoulders when you are about to hit the ball is better. While using your wrist will put too much pressure on your elbow. During recovery, it is best to avoid straining your elbows. 


If you want to enjoy pickleball for many more years, you should commit to physiotherapy. It is a great treatment for recovering from pickleball elbow. If you are unable to perform strength-building exercises, physiotherapy is the best option. Moreover, it is a great way to achieve flexibility and strength. Flexibility is one of the most important factors in playing pickleball. With strengthened muscles, you can stop worrying about pickleball elbow.

Avoid Using Heavy Pickleball Paddles

If you are recovering from a pickleball elbow, it is best that you use lightweight pickleball paddles. Using heavy paddles puts unnecessary pressure on your elbows, resulting in inflammation of the forearm muscles.

Go for the paddle with the grip size best for you

It is best that you get a paddle according to your grip size. The way you hit the ball and the shots you hit are dependent on the pickleball grip. Thus playing an important role in pickleball injuries. You can measure your grip size from your ring finger to the center of the palm of your pickleball hand.


In conclusion, pickleball is a kind of sport that is easier and has fewer chances of injury. However, the chances are not just zero. With all the kinds of treatments mentioned above, you are less likely to experience pickleball elbow. Moreover, to avoid any physical injury, we suggest you do some strength-building exercises and toughen your core. As a result, you will give your best at using the mechanics in the game you are passionate about!


Why does my elbow hurt after playing pickleball?

If your elbows hurt after playing pickleball, you will likely suffer from lateral epicondylitis. You have overused your outside elbow muscles. Further, they might be inflamed and have suffered some tearing.

How do you treat pickleball elbow?

Following are the best ways you can treat pickleball elbow.
• Limit the hours you spend playing pickleball.
• Take some rest and ice the swelling on your elbows.
• Do exercises that strengthen your body and, most importantly, your forearm muscles.
• Commit to some physiotherapy.

Is pickleball elbow the same as tennis elbow?

Yes, tennis elbow and pickleball are the same. It is lateral epicondylitis that is also common in pickleball players. 



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Hey, fellow pickleball player!

My name is Ethan Josephson. I am a pickleball enthusiast who has been playing this fantastic game for more than 5 years. Before that I had almost 20-years-experience with tennis and table tennis, but pickleball fascinated me completely.