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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Achilles Rupture


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If you all have not heard, I tore my achilles two weeks ago. I'm not in any pain, surgery was successful and painless. Shout-out to Holly Hill! World Class! Using a knee scooter to get around, but mobility is still an issue. Should be in a boot in a week or two.

 

This is the first time in over a decade I won't be in a Nutcracker. The ballet we all love to despise I will just watch from the audience.

 

My technique has been improving over the past year or so, even as I got older.

 

 

 

I will have a ton of questions Monday with my surgeon:

 

Will PT be painful?

When will I lose the cast?

When will I lose the boot?

Will I ever have the same flexibility in the calf?

The leg was previously a little shorter, will this injury make it worse?

Ballet? Jumps? Partnering?

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Holy moly! I had not heard and am so sorry to hear it! But I'm glad you're not in pain and it sounds like your spirits are good and you're ready for that appointment tomorrow. Merde!

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Sorry to hear MJ! I'm working on my second one! Your Dr. is certainly the one to answer all your questions, but I will share with you my experience. My Dr. is very conservative in my treatment. Some doctors, believe that early weight bearing heals faster. Usually you will be in a splint for 2 weeks, then the stitches will be taken out and you will be placed in a cast with your foot placed in a neutral position for 4 weeks or so. After that you will be given a boot with pads to be removed each week depending on how much range of motion you have in your foot. This will be another 4 to 6 weeks. After that you can start PT. THe good news is that yes, you can recover from this and ballet classes are PT all in itself! Full recovery is 6 months to a year.

Like you, I was never in any pain. I have managed both times to continue teaching and choreograph Nutcrackers each time! Never say never to a dancer! I wish you a speedy recovery! Please let us know how you are doing!

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MJ, gosh that sounds like such a lot to deal with. I've hurt my Achilles and I know that it took a long time to get back to full function: my physiotherapist suggested I'd never be able to point my foot fully again! That made me quite weepy for a day or so, and then I did my PT exercises carefully and regularly and it was fine. But it did take a couple of years.

 

We can all only comment on our own experience: when I have physiotherapy (and as well as the usual aches & pains in feet such as plantar fasciitits, I had intensive PT for bad nerve damage and intense pain after a broken wrist) it does hurt! But the hurt is passing and helps to heal. It won't kill you -- I think that's the thing to think. And breathe!

 

I've found it important to tell any physiotherapist that I am ballet trained, because I think that even my half-training, non-professional dancing experience means that my tolerance of pain is much higher than most "normal" (whatever that is!) people's. We look to pain as an indicator of what's going on with our bodies, rather than want to escape or banish it.

 

From my experience, it is slow slow healing. With my wrist, my PT was utterly wonderful. She realised I needed incentives and material proof of improvement so we'd do tests of grip strength and she'd measure my wrist flexion and tell me at each session how it had improved -- only a couple of degrees each session for the first few weeks, but after about 3 or 4 weeks of twice or thrice weekly sessions, I saw the improvement really shoot up. It's little by little in my experience. but when I look back, the improvement over 2 years got me back to pretty much my normal use and flexibility.

 

But everyone's different and your doctor and physiotherapist are the best sources for specific answers to your questions.

 

Good luck!

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Oh, also to say: talk to your physiotherapist about countering the possible imbalances in the rest of your body from dealing with a damaged leg/foot. I noticed when I could scarcely walk for 2 days with a burst of plantar fasciitis that my whole body went out of alignment. It affected my pelvic girdle and shoulders and I had to make a very conscious effort to try to hold and align my body in simple daily tasks such as walking!

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Sorry to hear MJ! I'm working on my second one! Your Dr. is certainly the one to answer all your questions, but I will share with you my experience. My Dr. is very conservative in my treatment. Some doctors, believe that early weight bearing heals faster. Usually you will be in a splint for 2 weeks, then the stitches will be taken out and you will be placed in a cast with your foot placed in a neutral position for 4 weeks or so. After that you will be given a boot with pads to be removed each week depending on how much range of motion you have in your foot. This will be another 4 to 6 weeks. After that you can start PT. THe good news is that yes, you can recover from this and ballet classes are PT all in itself! Full recovery is 6 months to a year.

Like you, I was never in any pain. I have managed both times to continue teaching and choreograph Nutcrackers each time! Never say never to a dancer! I wish you a speedy recovery! Please let us know how you are doing!

 

That is precisely what I'm going through now! Thanks for the encouragement!

 

MJ

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You are so welcome MJ! I forgot to mention that once you are in the boot, you can start working with a theraband to begin strengthening! Makes you feel like you are really on the road to healing after all the casting :)

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Yes, I have been in the vacocast for about 2.5 weeks.

 

I had tendinosis which I ignored and regret ignoring. I took a spill 4.5 weeks ago when I missed a step and fell forward and felt ripping in the lower calf. I hobbled around for about a week and then picked up the phone and made an appointment with the first Board certified ankle doc I could see. He diagnosed a partial rupture and the MRI confirmed it. He wanted to put me in a nonweight bearing cast for 6-8 weeks. That would have been extremely difficult but I would have done it if necessary. I also bought the Vacocast and experienced some real hostilty from the doctor and his staff. So, I started reading about different protocols for achilles recovery and made an appointment with another board certified ankle ortho that a friend recommended (her ankle shattered and she needed 4-5 operations). He said the vacocast and weight bearing were fine for me and I should start dialing it down every few days as tolerated. He also prescribed PT. So, I've been to PT three times this week and they are getting me up walking and stretching and have said I should be in shoes by the New Year. I'm sort of amazed at the difference in treatment protocols--but I did not have surgery and had a partial tear.

 

Good luck with your recovery!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I asked my Doc about the Vacocast, apparently the tear was not a good candidate. I have a PT who specializes in Dancers, and works with Professional dancers in the NYC area. She danced with a NYC company and knows feet like noone else.

 

Boot coming off this week, It is not comfy to sleep in. I have a dorsiwedge which is much more comfy and will ask if I can use it at night.

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  • 1 month later...

With my doctor's blessing, I took barre today. :toot: the leg was tight, but felt stronger and more flexible after class. A lot of PT ahead, but it felt good.

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Great news, MJ. I remember a mix of exhilaration and a little bit of residual fear getting back to the barre after a bad wrist fracture. It takes time, lots of time ...

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