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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Foot pain


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While DD was away at her SI she began having pain on the top of her foot. A PT looked at it and said that she had a knot and suggested a good foot massage to work out the knot. She asked if she had been wearing flip flops while walking around New York. She had not. I began massaging her foot and she said it felt better and she finished the SI (it was the last week) without incident. Now she has begun dancing at our home studio again and is in intense pain in the same spot. In fact, she says her hips and knees are hurting too now. I am wondering if it could be the floors here. I do not believe they are sprung. I say that because I danced on those same floors many, many years ago and I believe all that has changed is that Marley was rolled over the hard wood that we once danced on. Could this be caused by the floors?


Also, what should I do about her foot? We have been doing RICE and wrapping it and elevating it. We have also been putting Arnica on her foot after her bath. She will feel better, but after class, she hurts again.

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OK, you've entered the First Aid "holding pattern", now is the time to bring in the M.D., preferably an orthopedist familiar with dancers.

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You should immediately get her to an orthopedist, as Mel suggests. It might be a number of things, and of course your orthopedist will probably do some Xrays. If he/she does not order at least an Xray, ask for them (tell you why later). Pain on top of the foot often signals either a metatarsal stress fracture, or a Lisfranc joint strain (see http://www.arthroscopy.com/sp09022.htm), but it's worth an Xray, MRI or arthroscopy to see what's going on, and if you don't get at least an Xray as a baseline, then your insurance likely will not cover an MRI if the pain continues and you need a more refined diagnostic tool, so the sooner you get an Xray the better.


My daughter also was complaining of pain on top of her foot. The PT recommended by her school felt around a bit, and pronounced that it wasn't serious,"no problem", just ice and elevate...She danced on it but it became increasingly painful until finally she was coming out of class gritting her teeth and in tears. Enough was enough, so I finally took her to the doctor, who thought it was a stress fracture, although he really couldn't see anything on the Xray he took, since metatarsal stress fractures are often not visible except with an MRI which our insurance wouldn't pay for. She stayed off it for a month, and when it was time for a PT, naturally I didn't want her to go back to the fellow who told her to ignore it. I found another PT who said he suspected a Lisfranc joint sprain and showed her a way to support that area of her foot using Kinesiotape. Eventually it healed, but I wish I had not trusted the cavalier dismissal of her pain by the first PT. The fact that her knees and hips are also bothering your daughter is worrisome as well, so no matter what the cause, I would pursue a diagnosis as fast as possible. As Miss Clavel might remind us, pain is a signal that Something is not Right!


We know several dancers who have had either stress fractures on top of the foot, or Lisfranc joint strains, but this could be something else, so please don't hesitate to pass Go, pay the $200 if necessary, and go straight to the DOCTOR!


best regards for her speedy recovery.



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Thanks for the backup, mcrm, and for the really scary tale of the mystery pain. Yes indeed, pain is sometimes our friend; it says, "Take me to the Doctor, and make me feel better in the meantime." That's what RICE is for. Never forget that the "R" is for REST! Your student should not be taking class until cleared by a physician. It's good to hear a story with a happy ending, and the proper employment of appropriate-level medical professionals is a very good way to make sure everybody's story is a happy one! :grinning:

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