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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Sesamoid problem


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This is a multipart post . . medical and career . . .


My son is older, but didn't know where else to put this. I've read everything I can about every possible derivation of what might be wrong & treatment. I'm most interested in the prognosis, and if they even mention ballet dancers, they're talking about females! I figure it must be different for men.


So - my son, nearly 20, on the cusp of starting his career path, had an acute injury to the big toe (bent it backwards). Of course, he kept dancing - as he had an upcoming performance (small role thank goodness!) - for almost another month. He thought it merely a sprain and knew spring break was coming so he'd have a week "off". First day back in class, pain. Oh well, I've been out a while. Second day, more pain - ice, ibuprofen, taping. Third day - well, he could hardly walk by then and finally someone noticed and made him sit out. He saw the PT, they said Orthopedist. Immediate Boot - no dancing. Been about two weeks in the boot now.


Xray/MRI is ambiguous. It looks a little like a fracture, but compared to an xray from about two years ago, it seems there was a distinctive separation in that lateral sesamoid already (with no pain). It looks a bit wider now, but that could be the angle of the xray. I'm trying to obtain xrays, MRI, & CT from 4-5 years ago as another point of comparison.


The thing is, right now, the Ortho (a ballet Ortho, btw) wants to take a conservative approach - it may just be a severe strain - so trying boot first. Will reassess after a month. Then either the boot for another 3-ish months or surgery and a boot for - 3-6-12 months??? And, of course, no dancing. So conservative with possible earlier return, or possible longer return if surgery anyway? Or surgery right awy which shortens the time by 1-3 months in one sense, but longer in another. And, of course, the potential for nerve/tendon damage.


And - at the end of it all - the damage may be too severe - or chronic - to return to ballet. Ever.


Questions Part 1: Any experience with this type of injury? Suggestions about course of action?


Questions Part 2: And at the end of it all - conservative or surgery and extensive rehab - (again 6-12 months - more?,- before full out dancing?? Does anyone know. He's young and in shape if that helps.


He plans to do a lot of pilates, stretching, weight training, and swimming (using arms only - no legs) to stay in shape How long after the boot's OFF would it take to get back in fighting - er - dancing shape? After three months sprain? After let's say six months surgery? (Also, any suggestions on what else he can do to maintain "dancing shape"?)


Questions Part 3: He is out of his school in June. He had another place lined up (sort of a combo school/company thing), but we don't know if they will still take him. The man he needs to talk to is out of town, and son wants to wait until he "knows for sure" what the deal is. Of course the dance world is small, so I figure he shouldn't wait since word travels fast and I'd rather he hear it from my son.


Of course, he would only be able to take some of the conditioning classes, use their facilities, maybe their PT? The main thing would be able to at least watch, take notes, maybe work on some individual choreography for others. The other really important part, is to have an affiliation of some sort with SOMEbody! and remain attached to the dance world. Do people do that? Especially for someone who is not already attached to them.


IF they won't take him - and there's every reason to believe (and understand why) that they won't - then WHAT IS HE TO DO?? Where can he go? What are his options? His old local studio isn't good enough and have no facilities to train anyway. If he's "own his own" for up to a year, will he ever be able to rejoin the ranks - or has he missed his window (age being a factor)? Should he just go ahead and move on (that Plan B everyone talks about but I'm not sure he knows - he has options through Z, but only wants to DANCE!) And then there's that whole - mom has to support him that much longer part. . .


So - any advice? I know the medical part can only be answered by a medical mod, but any feedback on the rest of it? (Maybe I should have split this into two posts?)


Pretty desperate and terrified at this point. Is his career over before it's even started?

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Dancermom2cp, I'm sorry, but we no longer have medical moderators on BTforD. Therefore, we cannot deal with medical advice other than to say that at this point he and his doctor will need to decide on the course of action.


As far as returning to full dancing shape after injury and rehab time, it is usually about the same length of time they are not dancing, like 3 months to get fully back if they are out 3 months.


If he can arrange to be a part of a program without actually being able to dance, that would be a good thing. No way to know that but to try. Further than that is putting the cart before the horse. There is no point in panic at this time, in terms of career. He is young, strong, healthy, and hopefully will heal and should be able to get back to full dance mode. But we can't know either way, so let's put first things first, which is dealing with the immediate problem and then deal with the after part.


I will say one more thing, and that is that a dancer's doctor should know better than to say "never" to a dancer! I had two major surgeries and was told after the second one that I would be lucky to walk normally again. Well, a dancer dances. I was not as young as he is, but I was performing professionally, and I did again, after a very, very long time out. When I could walk again the next normal thing is plié and tendu! :)

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