How’s your backhand pickleball stroke? Any pain on the backside of your lower arm and elbow? If so, you may be suffering from pickleball (tennis) elbow or lateral epicondylitis to be more technical. The muscles that extend the wrist and fingers when performing a backhand stroke can easily become fatigued, strained and ultimately inflamed with overuse. The tendons of these muscles originate from a bony prominence of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle and insert into the wrist and fingers.
Although pickleball elbow can be present in all age groups, it tends to be more prevalent among those between the ages of 30 and 50. The onset of damaged tissues and the resulting signs/symptoms is usually a gradual process. Repetitive use of the wrist with backhand shots, while not incorporating elbow, shoulder and trunk muscles will increase the risk for injury.
Common signs and symptoms include swelling, warmth, tenderness to touch, burning pain and a weak grip. Symptoms can be made worse while using the forearm during job duties or activities of daily living. It is usually the repetition of an activity versus moving a heavy load that results in injury.
In part two, I will discuss the best ways to prevent pickleball elbow, followed by treatment techniques in part three. I hope your day includes some pain-free pickleball!