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Pickleball-related injuries are on the rise, doctors say

By 37ci3 Feb12,2024

As the popularity of pickleball has grown rapidly, so have the number of serious injuries among players.

Acid ball-related fractures have increased 200% in the past 20 years, according to an analysis of a large state injury database presented Monday at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons’ annual meeting.

Pickleball, played with a perforated plastic ball and wooden paddles on a badminton-sized court, is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with the number of players growing from 4.8 million in 2021 to 8.9 million in 2023, according to USA Pickleball. .

What are the most common acid injuries?

The overall rate of injuries is likely higher. The new analysis looked only at fractures, not the most common soft tissue injuries, such as ankle sprains or debilitating knee injuries such as ACL or anterior cruciate ligament injuries. Other common acid ball injuries include rotator cuff injuries, worsening arthritis, Achilles tendon tears/strains, and leg fractures.

The vast majority of fractures found in the new study, 92%, occurred during falls.

“While tickleball is a great sport, nothing is without risk,” said the study’s lead author, Yasmine Ghattas, a senior in medical school at the College of Medicine of Central Florida in Orlando.

The researchers aren’t arguing for people to stop gambling, just to be better prepared. “Well-informed participation in any activity is key,” he said.

Ghattas had a personal interest in the subject.

“My fiance and I play pickleball regularly and we’re both into orthopedics,” she said. “During our clinical rotations, we saw more and more patients coming in with acid ball fractures, so we looked to see if there were any studies, so we decided to dive deeper.”

The database the researchers used to investigate the topic, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, contains a representative sample of injuries collected from 100 US emergency departments. Ghattas and colleagues found 377 acid ball fractures described in the database between 2002 and 2022, which when extrapolated to the entire US population equated to about 5,400 acid ball fractures each year.

Women, especially those 65 and older, had more fractures than men. Most of these fractures were in the bones of the upper body, such as the forearms and hands. Researchers suspect they are related to osteoporosis or other bone thinning.

Although women had more fractures, men were 2.3 times more likely to be hospitalized after breaking a bone. Ghattas and his colleagues suspect this is because the men’s fractures were in bones of the lower body, such as the hip and femur, which resulted in more hospital stays than fractures in the upper body.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, associate professor of orthopedic surgery Dr. Eric Bowman says the increase in injuries may be largely due to the growth of the sport, but other factors may be at play.

For example, some people who exercise may not have received enough information beforehand, said Bowman, who was not involved in the study.

“It’s not enough to just grab an oar and go out there,” he said. “As with any sport, you need to learn the mechanics and form that lead to better performance and injury prevention. “Some people may not have studied enough or may not be physically fit beforehand.”

A yet-to-be-published study co-authored by Bowman found that between 2017 and 2022, the incidence of acid ball-related injuries increased faster than the sport’s popularity.

Bowman’s study found that soft tissue injuries were the most common overall. Fractures and worsening arthritis have been found to be increasingly common in patients 60 and older.

Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery in the Division of Sports Medicine at NYU Langone Health. Spencer Stein says that while exercise like acid ball is good for the cardiovascular system, research shows that people should be careful about how they start. New York City.

“When you get into a new sport, you want to be careful,” Stein said. “You should be examined by your primary care physician and screened for osteoporosis or thinning of the bones.”

It’s also important to warm up before playing and choose the right shoes for the sport, Stein said. And you need to learn a very important skill: to fall without causing injury, he said. “If you fall more to the side, you can protect your head, but you won’t risk your wrists,” he said.

Because it’s a less impactful sport than, say, tennis, people think acid ball is relatively safe, Stein said. But even so, competitiveness can drive people to overreach.

Stein notes that middle-aged women may already be losing bone, which puts them at risk for fractures. Therefore, he said that it is important to conduct a bone scan. “Typically, people start getting these screenings at age 65, but if there’s a family history of fractures, it makes sense to start earlier, even at age 50,” he said.

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