WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Dr. Alex Johnson, a Bethesda-based orthopedic surgeon at Johns Hopkins, said they are seeing more patients with pickleball injuries this summer.

“We see seniors and youth playing pickleball and playing pickleball together, which is wonderful. But you do have to be careful. I think just being careful playing at a comfortable level for you is really, really important. So for maybe some of our seniors it’s more falls. For some of our younger athletes playing pickleball, it could be tennis elbow. Those types of injuries, a sore shoulder, tendinitis that sort of thing, could be something as simple as the way you’re holding the racket or maybe not warming up properly,” he said.

Dr. Johnson also has advice for the weekend warriors who are getting off the couch — perhaps for the first time this summer — to stay healthy.

“You don’t want to go too quickly in getting back to activities. I tell patients all the time, if you hurt or if you have an injury or you have pain, you’re not going to be able to do anything you enjoy doing. So you just have to go nice and slow and progressively work up to your activities. Every joint in your body, whether a shoulder, a knee-joint, has a limit of function for that point in your life and you don’t want to exceed your limit. Now you can increase that limit over time as you get stronger as you increase your endurance. So it can be something as simple as you want to get out and run. Maybe you start by walking the curves and you run the straightaways. You kind of ramp up a little bit as you go and that generally can keep us out of trouble with a lot of these conditions,” he said.

Dr. Johnson also warned kids and teenagers about having more diversity when it comes to playing sports.

“There’s a push and a drive to specialize in their one sport.  There’s so much competition nowadays, so a lot of times I will see a kid playing the same sport all year long, whether it be soccer or baseball. My advice to them is if you can try different things or sports you’re using different parts of your body and that actually keeps us out of trouble. There’s a big drive in sports medicine to encourage athletes, younger athletes, to give themselves a rest from their particular sport at least some time throughout the year. By doing another sport or something else they enjoy, that gives it time — whether it’s a baseball player for their shoulder or elbow. It gives them time to rest and then use some of the other muscles that you may use in another sport,” he said.


Each week, DC News Now speaks with doctors across the DMV about health issues that impact all of us and how to prevent and treat those issues for “What’s Going Around?”