Pickleball Injuries May Cost Americans Nearly $400 Million This Year

Pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport, is taking a toll on players’ wrists, legs and shoulders. And it’s especially popular with injury-prone seniors, which is driving up the cost burden.

Pickleball injuries may cost Americans $377 million in health care costs this year, accounting for 5% to 10% of total unexpected medical costs, UBS analysts estimated in a report Monday.

“While we generally think of exercise as positively impacting health outcomes, the ‘can-do’ attitude of today’s seniors can pose greater risk in other areas such as sports injuries, leading to a greater number of orthopedic procedures,” the analysts said.

Pickleball-related injuries occur most frequently in older people, according to a 2021 medical study. From 2010-2019, 86% of emergency department visits due to pickleball injuries occurred in people over 60 years old, according to the medical study. Around 60% of pickleball injuries are sprains, strains and fractures. Twenty percent are contusions, abrasions, or internal injuries; and fewer than 10% are lacerations or dislocations.

The analysts estimated that there will be around 67,000 emergency room visits, 366,000 outpatient visits and 9,000 outpatient surgeries related to pickleball injuries this year.

Pickleball exploded since the pandemic began, and that’s leading to more injuries. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association trade group, pickleball has grown from 3.5 million players in 2019 to 8.9 million in 2022. The number of players will jump to 22 million this year, the UBS analysts estimate.


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