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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Stress fracture

Kate B

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Hi there,


I am hoping someone else has experience of this...


Just got back from the doctor's. I've had quite severe pain in the ball of my right foot for a month. I've been trying to get it sorted for a few weeks, and I'm sore in lots of different places now from walking on the outside of my foot and not doing any exercise. Today the doctor said it was a stress fracture (not tendinitis or arthritis as the other doctor had suggested) and gave me a prescription for some pretty heavy duty anti-inflammatories, and said that if I took the drugs it should sort itself out.


I said that I was concerned about what I was doing to my body, how I feel misaligned and out of shape and he said that if it was still a problem in a month I should come back. I feel annoyed that they have not done anything beyond asking what hurts and looking at my foot. But then, around here there are people with much worse problems than me so I guess I had a good consultation... He said no dancing for a month, which I am ok not to do because my foot is so sore!


I don't know what to do about the treatment though. Walking is painful, and I don't want to take these pills which appear to have horrible side effects if they are just going to cover up the pain. I haven't got any money to see a podiatrist or anything like that, so I just wondered if anyone had any advice. I'm so frustrated!


I also want to stay in shape but I can't see how I can. I can't do anything weight bearing (so even yoga is out), and swimming is out because my back is so sore.


Please, if anyone has had a stress fracture in their foot please let me know what you did for it and how I should avoid getting another one (they are horrible!) when I eventually do get back to dancing. :):thumbsup:



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OK, Kate, this is a stress fracture that has become so bad that you may require both a wrapping of the foot with an elastic bandage and crutches or a Canada cane to help you take the weight off the painful area. To start with, a couple of days of complete rest might be a good idea. One of the reasons you feel misaligned is that you are walking on a part of the foot that was never intended to be the primary weight-bearing area, just to favor the area that's painful. While you're getting that rest, take the medicine! Take it very easy for awhile and let yourself recover. After the rest of the body starts to become more comfortable, then start doing some floor barre exercises, or find some Pilates training that can help maintain your conditioning while you recover. Stress fractures are nasty, and require a lot of Tender Loving Care to heal.

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No advice from me either, I'm afraid, but I wish you a speedy recovery!

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Could you cycle/use an exercise bike? That's not weight-bearing and I've known others with stress fractures who have done that.

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Ooh yes please Becky, I am quite scared of the idea of floor barre! (Afraid I will be too weak in the stomach muscles and give up after about 5 minutes!!!)


And thanks everyone else for the support and advice. I am feeling less sorry for myself now!


I've just had a look on the internet about stress fractures, and there is a lot of stuff. It does sound exactly like what's wrong with me, so I can see why the Dr didn't bother with an x-ray or anything. I will just have to be patient - which is the worst thing ever!


I came across this page of links to information pages about stress fractures which I thought people might find interesting if they want to know more about looking after their bones (which is something I am going to pay more attention to from now on!)



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Kate, may I ask you how you got that stress fracture? (So that won't happen to me) :thumbsup:


It surely sounds terrible! Was it from dancing?

I hope you will be up dancing very soon!

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As far as I know stress fractures come from over use of muscles, when the muscles get tired they don't protect the bones as well or something like that. My doctor said my foot probably did take a pounding last term as I was working very hard and dancing more than I have in a long time.


I am going to speak to my teacher about preventing it when I get better. It's probably quite an individual thing (maybe I put more weight on this foot than the other?) but perhaps someone has some basic guidelines.


The problem with the internet sites is most of the advice is aimed at runners and we can't get a good pair of running shoes (which seems to be the main way of avoiding stress fractures and shin splints) to protect our feet when we are dancing! :)

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Oh Kate :) - I'm feeling for you! No advice or experience I'm afraid, just lots of hugs and support!



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Guest FRA0408

Kate - my empathies for your pain! My dd had a fracture in her big toe a few years ago - very painful! Rest is very important. She did do a floor barre during her recovery period - it was very beneficial. Take the medicines the doctor prescribed for you as directed, anti-inflammatories are very important and are not used to mask the pain. Your body needs help to heal. Since you are worried about side effects just be sure to ask either your doctor or pharmacist about how to take the medicine, ie. with food or without, and what you should look for in case of side effects - they probably very rarely occur, but laws require disclosure of any possible negative effects. Sending you wishes for a speedy recovery!

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I think Mel's advice to you is right on! The anti-inflammatory meds are not meant to mask the symptoms, but to actually reduce inflammation, and in the short term shouldn't pose a problem if taken properly. And Pilates, particularly with a machine, would be a good suggestion as well. I've not had problems with my own feet, but the problem with particularly strong feet is that you then have to work like the devil to articulate them. See, it's always a trade off! Good luck to you and chin up!

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Kate, hope you get better soon! The stress fracture sounds really nasty.


My (belated) wishes for a speedy recovery :)

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Thanks all for your replies. I thought I should update...


I went to see my sports physio (just decided that the money was worth it) and she explained what the injury was, and showed me pictures in a book. It is a stress fracture between the 1st and 2nd metatarsal, right where the ball of the foot is.


She said that I a. put more weight on this foot than the other and b. do not carry enough of my weight in the rest of my body, especially when dancing, so every time I jump or releve this foot suffers!


I will not be dancing for a couple of months now, because it still has not healed. She is going to show me various things to do (stretches etc), and she thinks I might benefit from orthotics. The best thing about the consultation was the massage - well afterwards anyway - I really tightened up my muscles from compensating for the bad foot. She says that a lot of people just do what their doctor (remember my GP was not very helpful) tells them and then in 10 years time they need knee operations or whatever else.


One good thing - in a week or two I can go to swimming or floor barre or pilates or yoga, so I will not be a couch potato for much longer!

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