News Release

As the pickleball craze grows, doctors urge players not to ignore injuries

As pickleball-related sprains, strains and overuse injuries rise, survey finds many forgo care for nagging sports injuries

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Orlando Health

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Credit: Orlando Health

Orlando, Fla - Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country and has proven to be a great way to help millions stay active. And while it may seem like a fun game with a silly name, like any sport, it is not without risk. As doctors see more patients with pickleball-related injuries, a new national survey by The Harris Poll on behalf of Orlando Health finds many Americans are likely to forgo medical care for a nagging sports injury.

“Because pickleball is a relatively low impact activity, a lot of people think they won’t get hurt, but we’re seeing more and more people coming in with everything from broken bones and sprains to overuse injuries to the knees, shoulders and elbows,” said Luis Gandara, MD, a sports medicine physician at the Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute. “Any injury that doesn't seem to be getting better in a matter of a few days needs to be checked out by an orthopedic specialist to get a correct diagnosis and effective treatment.”

The survey found that while a third (33%) of Americans report avoiding participation in a sport or hobby because of a nagging injury, about half (49%) agree it’s not worth seeing a doctor for a sports injury they believe will heal on its own, something Gandara warns can exacerbate injuries and lead to more serious problems that are more difficult to treat.

“Playing through an injury that doesn’t resolve with rest, ice and elevation causes that injury to become increasingly unstable,” he said. “If a patient comes to us right away, there is a good chance we can treat them with less-invasive options to help common injuries like a strained ligament, torn muscle or a hairline fracture heal. But if an injury is left to worsen over time without intervention, a patient is more likely to require surgery and a longer and more difficult recovery.”

The survey also found 44% believe making a doctor’s appointment for an injury that is not too painful is too much work. That’s why the Jewett Orthopedic Institute opened several walk-in clinics, where patients can see an orthopedic specialist without an appointment or a referral, to ensure patients can get the care they need quickly and conveniently.

“Unlike going to the ER or an urgent care center, an orthopedic walk-in clinic is staffed with specialists who can assess sports injuries and immediately initiate effective treatment, whether that involves physical therapy and non-invasive treatments like injections or a same day referral to a specific type of surgeon,” Gandara said.

Robbin Murray fell in love with pickleball a decade ago. But as she played more frequently and competitively, she began to have issues with her knee that were painful enough to keep her off the court.

“I was hooked right from the start and would play as much as I could, all day long, eventually traveling to compete in senior tournaments,” Murray said. “It all added up and I started experiencing sharp pains that would take me down to the ground in the middle of a game.”

Robbin worried she would need knee replacement surgery, but after consulting with Dr. Gandara, has been able to safely participate in the sport she loves and manage her injury with a specialized brace, anti-inflammatory injections and physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the area.

Gandara encourages people to get out and enjoy pickleball or any healthy activity they enjoy, but emphasizes the importance of easing into any new activity, taking precautions like stretching and wearing supportive shoes and listening to your body when something doesn’t feel right.

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Survey Method

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Orlando Health from June 15 - 20, 2023 among 2,076 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 2.7 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact

About Orlando Health
Orlando Health, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $9.2 billion of assets under management that serves the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. 

Founded more than 100 years ago, the healthcare system is recognized around the world for Central Florida’s only pediatric and adult Level I Trauma program as well as the only state-accredited Level II Adult Trauma Center in Pinellas County. It is the home of the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care unit under one roof, the only system in the southeast to offer open fetal surgery to repair the most severe forms of spina bifida, the site of an Olympic athlete training facility and operator of one of the largest and highest performing clinically integrated networks in the region. Orlando Health has pioneered life-changing medical research and its Graduate Medical Education program hosts more than 350 residents and fellows. 


The 3,888-bed system includes 29 hospitals and emergency departments – 24 of which are currently operational with five coming soon. The system also includes nine specialty institutes, more than 100 adult and pediatric primary care practices, skilled nursing facilities, an in-patient behavioral health facility under the management of Acadia Healthcare, and more than 60 outpatient facilities that include imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, home healthcare services in partnership with LHC Group, and urgent care centers in partnership with FastMed Urgent Care. More than 4,750 physicians, representing more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties have privileges across the Orlando Health system, which employs more than 27,000 team members and more than 1,200 physicians. 

In FY22, Orlando Health served nearly 142,000 inpatients and 3.9 million outpatients. The healthcare system provided more than $782 million in total value to the communities it serves in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more in FY 21, the most recent period for which this information is available. Additional information can be found at, or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @orlandohealth.

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