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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Structural Foot Problems

Guest kasy127

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Guest kasy127

Hello everyone. I am an adult who has enjoyed dance all my life, I have done ballet, tap, and jazz as well as ballroom dancing and still would like to enjoy them all except for one problem, I have a structural foot problem with my left foot that I was born with, but had been able to compensate for it until recently (I'm now 48 years old). I have talked to a foot surgeon, and he told me that the most "golden" type of surgery to perform with my particular foot problem is to "freeze" the foot so that the ankle will only go up and down as opposed to being able to go side to side. Obviously, I objected to this because I want to be able to continue to dance. He did mention that he could do surgery that would only "freeze" certain parts of my foot so that I can move it in all directions. Also, the large joint of my big toe is stiff because of arthritis in it so I cannot do "releve" any more. The surgeon said that he would try to "scrape around the joint" to possibly allow it to bend a little more. The surgery would take about three hours and I would be in a non-weight-bearing cast for 8-12 weeks.


My question is, does anyone know of anyone who has had this type of surgery, and if so, has s/he been able to dance after this surgery, and also would I be able to communicate with this person to get their experience?


I am not a professional dancer, but I enjoy dancing so much and have since childhhod that it would break my heart if I could never do it again.


Thank you for any advice you can provide.

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Hi Kathy, and welcome to the Adult Students' Forum here at Ballet Talk on Ballet Alert! Online!


This is one where you're going to have to trust your surgeon and make sure he/she understands exactly what you expect out of your foot. You may want a second opinion, and in that case, I might ask for a consult with somebody from the Hospital for Special Surgery, or the Hospital for Joint Diseases in NYC. There is also the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries that can be consulted - I believe they are affiliated with Columbia Presbyterian.


PS. Nope, I'm wrong, Harkness is a part of HJD at NYU - I'd give them a try first, if you need a second opinion.


[ December 28, 2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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There's a book called "The Dancers Foot Book" by Dr. Terry Spilken. He used to be the staff podiatrist for the Jeoffrey Ballet and has worked with numerous dancers in the New York area. I believe he's based in Manhatten, but I don't know if he still practices or not. I noticed you're in New York. Don't know if it's worth your time to try to contact him.


Personlly, my foot doctor, though a surgeon, goes out of his way to avoid surgery at all costs.

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Guest kasy127

Dear 2 Left Feet,


Thank you for your suggestion about obtaining the book. I will look into it. As far as the surgery goes, this is a last resort. I was given the choices of:


1) wearing orthotics and firm high-top shoes

2) wearing a more structurally significat

orthotic and brace such as a Ritchie brace

3) surgical intervention.


The specific problem is

1) suspected posterior tibial dysfuncito of the

left lower extremity

2) total collapse and valgus deformity of the

left rear foot

3) hallux limitus with degenerative joint disease

at the 1st MPJ on the left


I didn't want to have to go through the rest of my life with high-top shoes, braces, or heavy orthotics especially when I could not probably

dance while wearing any of these devices.

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