The neighborhood pitch to get people into the pickleball craze was simple.
All a player needs is an open space, a net, a ball and a paddle to play for hours. Tennis requires less movement and, in fact, as The New York Times wrote last September, “Anyone can play it.”
This simple proposal may come at a cost. In a recent research note, UBS analysts estimated that by 2023, medical costs attributed to pickleball will be between $250 million and $500 million. In addition to factors such as backlog of surgeries, the sport may also be contributing to an increase in ambulatory surgeries for older people, he said. In the aftermath of the pandemic and the removal of mask mandates.
So why has a seemingly harmless sport suddenly become a potential source of soaring health care costs in America?
“Pickleball was just too easy to play,” Dr. Joshua Dines, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at a hospital for special surgery, told Yahoo Finance. “So For those who haven’t done anything in years, this is like a gateway back into the sport that they may not be ready for yet. ”
it’s a matter of who plays
Like many Americans, Dines has been swept away by the pickleball wave. HSS His biography on his website highlights roles as team doctor for the New York Mets, New York Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, but now also includes “Major League Pickleball Medical Director”. ing.
Also, the number of patients with pickleball-related injuries has risen, suggesting it is a more dangerous sport than other sports he has worked closely with, such as baseball, hockey and tennis. I don’t think It’s all about who plays.
As noted by UBS, the number of pickleball players is projected to grow from 3.5 million in 2019 to an estimated 22.3 million by the end of 2023. And, according to UBS, most of that rising player injuries are from people over the age of 60. This cites his 2021 study using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
Dines said pickleball is considered a low-impact sport, but it still involves repetitive shoulder movements and side-to-side movements, which can exacerbate existing injuries, especially in those who are less active. said there is.
“If you had an MRI on everyone over the age of 60, a lot of them might not have symptoms, but they would have some degree of meniscal tear, and all of a sudden, they’re going to tweak their knees.” ‘ says Dines. “And whether it’s hiking, walking or pickleballing, symptomatic meniscal tears require treatment.”
Certainly, seniors aren’t the only ones who get injured. Just last week, Dines had three of his customers in their late 20’s to his early 30’s. All suffered pickleball injuries.
“While pickleball, like any physical activity, has the potential for injury, it is not inherently an excessive risk,” the sports governing body USA Pickleball told Yahoo Finance in a statement. “While there are many benefits to being on the pickleball court as part of a healthy, fit and active lifestyle, USA Pickleball encourages all players to monitor their physical fitness at all times. I encourage you.”
Dines acknowledges that three to four hours of any sporting activity can lead to injury.
Golf still puts additional torque on a player’s back, which can lead to overuse injuries. Tennis is fast-paced and can cause tripping injuries similar to pickleball.
So while a $500 million injury may seem eye-popping, it is perhaps more a sign of pickleball’s growing popularity than anything else.
Josh Schafer is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.
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