What are Dance Injuries of the Foot and Ankle?
The foot and ankle are subject to significant stress and strain while dancing because they provide the base of support, act as shock absorbers and propel movement. The many hours of practice to make a dance routine appear graceful and effortless does take a heavy toll on your foot an ankle resulting in injuries. About 50% of all dance injuries occur in the foot and ankle.
What are the Risk Factors of Dance Injuries of the Foot and Ankle?
The following are risk factors for injuries in dancers:
- Poor technique such as incorrect execution of jumps and landing
- Insufficient rest
- Insufficient muscular strength
- Improper footwear
What are the Symptoms of Dance Injuries of the Foot and Ankle?
The symptoms of dance injuries of the foot and ankle vary depending on the type of injury and include the following:
- A red bump and swelling on the outside of the base of your big toe.
- Tenderness around your big toe and ankle joint
- Corns or calluses (thickened skin) that often develop in between the first and second toes where they rub against each other
- Pain and burning sensation that comes and goes
- Inability to bend your big toe
- Discomfort wearing regular shoes
Foot and ankle sprains
- Throbbing pain in the joints when you bear weight on the affected foot or move your foot
- Soreness to touch
- Swelling and bruising
- Redness and warmth due to more blood flow in the area
- Difficulty with walking and standing
- Instability in the foot and ankle movements
- Feeling of lower limb weakness
- Popping sensation or sound when the injury occurs
Stress fracture of the foot and ankle
- Pain that develops gradually and worsens during weight-bearing activities
- Discomfort in the foot and ankle while resting
- Tenderness when touched at the fracture site
- Swelling or redness
- Pain along the back of the leg or above the heel after sports activities
- Episodes of more severe pain after running, climbing stairs or sprinting
- Stiffness along the Achilles tendon especially in the morning, which improves with mild activity
- Swelling that worsens with any stressful physical activity
- Pain at the bottom of the heel or bottom of the mid-foot area
- Burning sensation or tenderness that extends from the heel outwards
- Pain that worsens when you walk after a long period of rest
- Stiffness in the joints
- Difficulty in climbing stairs and walking
How are Dance Injuries of the Foot and Ankle Diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will diagnose your dance injuries of the foot and ankle based on your medical history and a thorough physical examination. Your doctor may order imaging tests such as X ray, MRI Scan, CT Scan and ultrasound scan to confirm the location of injuries and possible complications.
How are Dance Injuries of the Foot and Ankle Treated?
Dance injuries of the foot and ankle may involve the following types of management:
- RICE therapy which involves rest, ice, compression and elevation
- Use ankle braces or crutches to avoid putting weight on the foot and ankle
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling
- Some stress fractures may be immobilized in a cast to hold the bones together during the healing process. Stress fractures usually heal in 1 – 2 months.
- Ultrasound or shockwave therapy to the injured tendon or fasci.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy, an injection of a concentrate of the patient's own blood plasma that is rich in healing factors
The various surgical options to correct any deformity and relieve the symptoms of the dance injury of the foot and ankle may include:
- Reconstruction of the torn ankle ligaments to restore stability to the ankle joint
- Removal of bunions to correct the big toe's position and remove swollen tissue from the affected joint
- Surgical correction of lengthening of the calf muscle or the plantar fascia of the foot may be required when you have persistent pain despite conservative treatment
How can you Prevent Dance Injuries of the Foot & Ankle?
Dance injuries of the foot and ankle may be prevented by:
- Learning the correct dance techniques
- Wearing wider and softer or padded footwear
- Using foot supports or orthotics like splints and in-soles
- Muscle strengthening and balance training