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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Just when you think it can't get any worse


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I re-injured my right knee today at work. I was walking down the hall, exactly like how I injured it the first time in early October, and all of a sudden it twisted inward and hyperextended backward at the same time. I didn't hear anything pop but I was afraid to put weight on it. It happened while I was walking through the copy room and I was holding onto the wall with a phone. I called a co-worker to come back and told her what happened. She held onto me as I tried to put weight on it. I could handle the weight so I went back to my office and sat down.


Within a few minutes I was in terrible pain. The kind of pain that makes you want to scream and cry and pull your hair out. Co-worker made me call my doctor. I went in at 1:30 and he tested everything (I let him pull and tug and use a lot of force to check). He said it wasn't my meniscus this time........it's the patella tendon. He said from the checks he did he is diagnosing as a small tear (he said it couldn't be very big or I wouldn't be able to walk at all) and a very, very, very bad strain. He's not sending me back for another MRI because I just had one and from the results he got in the office he is pretty certain of the diagnosis. I have to wear my brace for the next 5 days, ibuprofen 800mg 4x a day, and no activity other than leg raises for a minimum of four weeks.


He said my lateral ligament has a huge amount of give in it. He said the left one gives more than most people's too, but the right one is outrageous. He feels like it is a combination of that lax ligament, the hyperextension, and not enough quad strength that is causing the injuries.


I asked about returning to dance and he said that until we get this thing settled down with no injuries happening that dancing would probably not be the best thing, but he also doesn't want to tell me that I can't do it because I love it so much. And honestly, if I can't trust my knee while walking through the halls at work then how could I trust it in ballet?


So..............it seems that my dancing days may be coming to an end.




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So sorry to hear of your difficulties! Take a deep breath WendyMichelle and only think good thoughts! :rolleyes: Time will tell which direction you must take, but please hear your medical professionals and follow their advice.

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WendyMichelle... so sorry to hear that. I'm glad it's only a small tear.


This makes me think that to the extent you go back to dancing, you will need to be doubly aware of your body. You can't just "plug and chug" the exercises. And you will need to know what kinds of exercises will improve the stability of your knee, or diminish it. Hopefully, you will learn some of this in PT and be able to apply it in the dance studio later.


Reminds me of my shoulder. I dislocated it about 10 years ago, and it's never been the same since. I don't do shoulder sits on my right shoulder, not even the lightest women. For the first few years after the original injury, it would dislocate almost by itself --- if I put my arm in the wrong position, for example. Once it dislocated on stage and I had to immediately put down my partner even though the music didn't call for it (I will never sacrifice my shoulder for a ballet). This slowly came to an end by consciencious ballet studio work. As I used my back and shoulders properly in ballet, it served to tighten the muscles around the shoulder so that they would hold the joint together in place of the ligaments that previously held it together (those ligaments were stretched in the dislocation). Now my shoulder is ALMOST back to normal, but still no shoulder sits.


And then there are my knees --- training wrong at ballet will move them out of balance and alignment. Once that's happened, the ONLY thing I've found that brings them back is training correctly at ballet. I have to be in the right teacher's class, although I'm doing better and training correctly in spite of the teacher (it depends on the set and speed of exercises given). The PT exercises have never worked for me. So dance becomes a never-ending cycle of being the problem as well as its only solution... which creates a lifelong dependancy of sorts. At least I'm remaining fit in my 30's.


In your case, the muscles around your knee will need to hold your knee together instead of the ligaments. The quads, for example. Ballet has exercises that strengthen quads (rond de jambe en l'air). But you will have to do more of them that would be typical in ballet class. Over time, with careful, consistent, consciencious work, I would not be surprised if you can get your knee to the point where you can trust it in more complex situations. You probably have a "loose" body, so you will always have to work doubly hard at strengthening and not so much at stretching.


So I wouldn't write off ballet quite yet --- it could turn out to be one of your main tools at building and maintaining the critical muscular balance in your knee to avoid future injury. But you definitely need a more thoughtful approach than what you described a few months ago. Sometimes there are really insightful modern dancers who can help a lot with body awareness, maybe some are in your area.

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Oh Wendy, I really feel for you!


There was me feeling miserable because I sprained my heel jumping in class last night, which I know will get better in a few days, and you have this happen!


Never say never though - even your doctor didn't say that, did he?


He just said "not yet".


The most important thing is to rest for the 4 weeks he's told you to (since it will be over the Xmas break, you won't be missing all that much) & see where you are then.


From previous posts, it does sound like there may be things you can do, but I'm not qualified to say any more!


I'm thinking of you though.



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Thanks for the kind replies.


Bob..........your post gives me a glimmer of hope. Everyone at work was asking if anything could be done for the knee and I said, "well, unless they can tighten the ligament somehow, which I've never heard of, I don't think so." My doctor did say that my body is pretty loose, and most of my joints are hyperextended. He said that is just my "makeup" and I will have to be more aware of that no matter what activities I pursue in the future.


Another thing he said, which really surprised me, was that when women are on their monthly cycle (which I was at the time of the injury) they are more prone to injuries. I told him I was on mine at the time and he said, "well, there's your proof!" I can't remember if he said it was due to the hormones or what because I was a little suprised by the correlation.


Anyway, I'm just hobbling around in my brace and doing the heat pad and ibuprofen. Trying to take it easy over the weekend.............although I have a sneeking suspicion my Mom is trying to make me go shopping. :D



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I agree with Citibob, don't give it up yet. Chances are this is the result of improper training. No offense to your teachers but I've seen top porfessionals with poor training in fundamentals who finally got someone to fix them. And I've seen dancers with badly mangled legs and feet turn around when taught how to use their bodies the way their individual body is built. The key is finding someone who can work with you, who will tell you how and where your body is working at it's best.


Take the time to heal yourself completely, then figure out if you've got to give it up or not. For now, I wouldn't rule out dancing again. Heal first, heal completely, figure out the dance thing later.

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They can tighten the ligament surgically. My brother had that done to his ankle ligaments. It is a last effort though, and strengthening the musles around the loose joint usually comes before that.

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I was going out of my mind in pain Sunday night, didn't sleep, was ready to start punching things around 3pm yesterday at work, called my doctor, pressed 228 to receive "urgent medical advice," got a voicemail, left a message, no one called me back before I left work, came home and took some left-over pain medicine from my eye surgery and passed out (literally).


Woke up this morning and was still in really bad pain, started calling the doctor's office at 9am when they opened, called for an hour straight and couldn't get through, finally got so irritated and was hurting so bad that I left work, got in my car, and drove to my doctor's office. Went in and asked to speak to him. They had a nurse come talk to me (she'd left me a voicemail while I was en route to the office) and the doc gave me some high falutin' thing that is a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, and stiffness reducer all in one. It's mainly used for arthritis and osteoarthritis but can be used in injuries as well. It seemed to help today. Doc also decided to send me on to an orthopedic specialist. It only took two injuries and a degenerating kneecap later for him to make that call.


So that's my update. Yeah. Appt. with the specialist is next Wednesday morning at 9:30am.

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Oh Wendy,

I seriously feel for you. When they called my injury a "micro-tear" I was pissed (not as mad as I was after waiting in the ER for 11 hours but -- you know...). Soft-tissue inuries seem to be both 1) hard to diagnose and 2) easy for the professionals to blow off. Find yourself a good Physical Therapist; even on the lousy Student Health Insurance I got a fabulous one [Total digression: by the end of our sessions he was totally experimenting on me, in the most non-exploitative way possible: "Can you stand on a balance board and turn out, then lift the leg to passe and develope back?" Yes. "How much weight can you lift just using your toes?" A lot.] I've been sidelined for almost a year what with one thing and another and I really do sympathize. A PT can help you figure out exactly how to deal with/compensate for structural weaknesses. I found the PT to be much more helpful and informative than the osteo-specialist.

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Well.......all I can say - BE STRONG !

I don't now what to say more but you must always remember - YOU WILL BACK IN BALLET AT ALL COST ! ! !

I wish you good health and best wishes :shrug:

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WendyMichelle... it looks to me like you need a new primary care physician. That kind of lack of response is simply unacceptable.

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I am definitely not thrilled about the situation........to say the least. Also, the high-falutin' thing he gave me started causing really bad headaches and tore my stomach all to pieces. I ate with it too. I couldn't take anything else for either of the side effects because I could have bled to death (nice thought, huh?). I called back and he called me in some pain medicine. I called my pharmacist to make sure it didn't have codeine in it. It was codeine free, but Doc apparently didn't check the drug interaction stuff..........because I take three medications that interact with it and can cause seizures. My pharmacist said if I was on one of the medicines he would say it would be alright, but since I was on three of them that I would be at an extremely high risk of having seizures. He said he advised against getting it, but if I wanted it filled he would do it. So I called my doc back again and left another message telling him what the pharmacist had said and that I wasn't getting the prescription filled and would stick with Aleve or Ibuprofen until I can get to the ortho this Wednesday. Doc called me back (again) and told me how to take either the Aleve or the Ibuprofen in the meantime.


This has just been a nightmare.




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