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Returning to Pickleball After Shoulder or Wrist Injury



Terrell Joseph, MD, a Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurology (VSON) board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon, has a strong clinical focus on sports injury of the shoulder and wrist. He works with athletes including many pickleball players in Eagle and Summit counties. For a comprehensive overview of a pickleball injury, see Dr. Joseph’s blog post, “What are the Most Common Pickleball Injuries?” Patients are concerned, “How do I plan on returning to pickleball after a wrist or shoulder injury?” Dr. Joseph wants patients to have confidence about returning to pickleball after wrist and shoulder injury.


Pickleball After Wrist Injury


Pickleball involves quick repetitive movements causing strain and risk of injury to the wrist. Sprains and strains occur from reaching for the ball and changing direction. Inflammation of wrist tendons develops from repetitive hitting, overplaying, and inadequate rest. Carpal tunnel can result from overuse creating compression on the median nerve of the wrist.


Dr. Joseph and his expert care team monitor patients to determine readiness to return to pickleball after wrist injury. Patient responsibilities:

  • Warm up and stretch before play

  • Use correct wrist-brace or splint when recommended

  • Start with gentle wrist strengthening and flexibility exercises

  • Review and practice whole body pickleball technique

  • Avoid overuse, build duration and intensity over time.

  • Pay attention to even minor pain and discomfort and seek medical advice

  • Rest; take time away from play



Returning to Pickleball After a Broken Wrist


With its fast-paced footwork and directional changes, pickleball can result in a fall which can triggers an outstretched hand to break the landing. The force of impact can cause a wrist fracture. The repetitive impact of the paddle swing motion can stress the wrist, resulting in a risk of fracture. Common pickleball wrist fractures are radius (forearm) fracture near the wrist, scaphoid fracture at the base of the wrist, triquetral fracture at the side of the wrist and hamate fracture at the base of the outer fingers.


Dr. Joseph will provide a release for returning to pickleball after a broken wrist when the fracture has fully healed. This can range from 3 - 6 months depending on fracture severity. To minimize risk of a relapse or reinjury, patients should:

  • Warm up and stretch before using the wrist

  • Wear a wrist brace for protection and stability

  • Use proper fitting footwear

  • Rehabilitate with stretching and strengthening of the wrist and forearm

  • Commit to proper whole body technique especially hitting the ball

  • Build stamina and intensity slowly

  • Listen to the body and seek medical advice for any concern

  • Eliminate overplaying, take time away from the court

  • Slow the pace of play to avoid a fall



Pickleball After Shoulder Injury


Overhead shots, reaching for the ball and repetitive motion of forehand and backhand strokes place demand on pickleball player shoulders, increasing the risk of shoulder injury. A fall or collision with another player may also result in shoulder injury. Common pickleball shoulder injuries involve a strained or torn rotator cuff, impingement syndrome from overuse compression of the tendons and bursa (fluid-filled sacs) that cushion the shoulder joint, biceps tendonitis affecting the biceps tendon and muscle, and shoulder dislocation, when the upper arm bone is forced its normal joint position.


Dr. Joseph provides expert diagnosis and treatment options for pickleball shoulder injury patients. Each injury requires an individualized approach, and could include non-surgical treatments, or with more severe injuries, surgery. Depending on the treatment, patients rely on Dr. Joseph and his expert team to monitor the recovery process and determine when the player can return to play. Pickleball after shoulder injury will include:

  • Warm up and stretch before using the shoulder.

  • Use a shoulder brace for support and stability

  • Proper fitting footwear

  • Rehabilitate by stretching and strengthening the shoulder, back and chest

  • Practice proper whole-body technique

  • Start and build slowly, avoid overuse

  • Pay attention to the body, share any concerns


Dr. Joseph is trusted by pickleball players requiring orthopaedic care for shoulder and wrist injury. Request a consultation today for an expert diagnosis and treatment plan to get you back in the game.


Call (970) 476-7220 today to make an appointment or submit a request using their online form.

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