I’ve been dancing since I was 2. Now I’m 14. After dancing for so many years, there’s been a lot of wear and tear on my body. All dancers have the occasional floor burn or pulled muscle, but I wanted to talk a little about my personal, more serious injuries. Disclaimer: I know there are many more serious injuries a dancer could have, but these are still not things that should be ignored and should be taken care of properly.
In February 2014, I started to feel pain in my right ankle whenever I was at dance or running in gym. I blew it off at first, thinking it was probably just a bruise in a sensitive location or a pulled muscle (how you pull a muscle in your ankle, I don’t know, but that’s what went through my head). It got worse and worse, so I started icing it and putting heat on. That didn’t help, so I went to my pediatrician and they told me to ice it and give it rest, not even looking closely. So I did what they said, limiting myself in gym and being careful at dance.
Jump forward a couple months. Nothing was working and the pain was getting worse. I was starting to get seriously concerned, because usually a pulled muscle or even a minor sprain wouldn’t last this long. I went back to the doctor and they sent me over to the Emergency Room next door (sounds drastic, but it was just to get an X-Ray because they didn’t have the equipment where I was) and I got an X-Ray done. They said there was nothing wrong, I was probably just overworking myself. They gave me an ace bandage and told be to be careful. I would wrap my foot at dance and whenever I ran, which helped for a little.
It’s now 2015, almost a year from when my ankle first started bothering me. The wrap helped at first, but then it went back to what it had been like before. It got worse again, now hurting all the time, even if I was only walking. Every step sent a sharp pain up the side of my foot. I went back to the doctor, and they recommended me to an orthopedic specialist, where they did another X-Ray and gave me a brace. The ace bandage had to be wrapped my ankle, but the brace had to be slid over my foot, laced up, and velcroed in 3 different ways. It was a stabilizer brace, so my ankle couldn’t move when I had it on. I wore the brace every day for a week, before they called me back in for the X-Ray results. The X-Ray showed that I had tendonitis (I linked an article about it if you want to read more), which basically meant that a tendon in my ankle was inflamed. They told me to stop dancing for a while, but I kept dancing, wearing the brace at every rehearsal.
About a month later, I started to wish I had listened to the orthopedic and taken a break from dance. My ankle swelled up and hurt with every step I took. I was still wearing the brace and had starting icing it every couple days, but again, nothing was working. I went back to the orthopedic, and they recommended physical therapy. So I did physical therapy for 9 weeks, which helped a lot. After you are cleared from physical therapy, they give you exercises to do at home so that you maintain the strength you built up while in physical therapy. I did my exercises for the first couple weeks, but then slowly started to forget about them.
Since I wasn’t doing the exercises, my ankle lost all of the strength it had built up and started to hurt again. It had been a year and a half and nothing I had tried was working. I ignored it and dealt with the pain for a while, sick of all the failed attempts and unhelpful doctor’s visits. In early 2016, I finally gave in and went back to the doctor (not the orthopedic). They told me I had an extra bone on my ankle and there was nothing I could do except wait for it to fuse. At another appointment later in the year, they told me that I was just overworked, and recommended rest and ice. Ugh. Like I hadn’t already tried that. But I did what they said (not stopping dance though) and somehow, it started to feel better. I don’t exactly remember what happened for the rest of the year, but it must have been okay because I had no more orthopedic or doctor’s appointments.
But then everything went downhill again. It’s 2017, and my had ankle starting hurting worse then it had ever hurt before, and my left knee starting hurting really badly. My knees have always cracked really loudly when I straighten them after having them bent for a while, but now, whenever I bent my knee, it would make this loud popping noise and hurt. A lot. We debated going back to the doctor, but they had been so unhelpful with my ankle that we went straight to an orthopedic. My mom found a different orthopedic this time, an ankle and knee specialist, so we went to see her.
But she was so helpful. She diagnosed me with peroneal tendonitis in my right ankle, which means the tendons in my ankle are fraying and on the verge of tearing. If it tears, I would need surgery to sew it back together. She also said that I had a discoid meniscus in my knee, which means that there is a extra piece of tendon in my knee that hasn’t fused to the rest of my body yet. Well, okay. At least I know what’s going on. But then she brought up the option that it might not be an extra piece of tendon. Instead, it could be a piece of tendon that had broken off of where it is supposed to be. If that was the case, I would need to get surgery to take it out or put it back. She put me in physical therapy for another 8 weeks, hoping to force the tendon in my knee to fuse if that’s what it was going to do and strengthen the tendon in my ankle to prevent it from tearing. If physical therapy didn’t work, she would have me get another MRI or X-Ray and see what to do next. So great. Possible surgery for both issues.
So that’s where I’m at. I did the physical therapy over the summer and have been doing my exercises since I was cleared. My knee and ankle still hurt sometimes, but they are better than before. My knee bothers me more than my ankle, which makes me nervous because there’s still the looming option of surgery, which I want to avoid at all costs. I will keep you updated on the situation, but hopefully I won’t need to make another long post like this one 🙂
Comment below what injuries you have had to deal with and if you’d like to see a post on what I do to treat my injuries!