Injuries & Nutcracker | Where I’ve Been

Hi, everyone, long time no post! It’s been a crazy past few months and I’m finally on here to update you all. Since I have a short break from ballet and school (finally), I thought I’d let you know what’s been going on with me. I hope you enjoy the post!

 

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Nutcracker with Bailey

 

I’ve always been pretty prone to injuries since I started ballet late, and as dancers, I think everyone always has something that’s bothering them. That could be some kind of cramp or pull or something that just doesn’t feel right. I’ve only had a few injuries since I’ve started dancing. The first injury I ever had was when I was in my second year of dancing when I was twelve, and I got achilles tendonitis, which I had a few more times over the years. The tendonitis was annoying and it hurt, but it never really kept me from dancing. Then about two years ago I hurt my back and I still have back pain, but it has never kept me from dancing.

In early September of this year, I noticed an annoying pain in my left shin, I kind of ignored it and put some IcyHot on it. Then a couple of days late the pain got a lot worse, now in both shins. Before I go into the rest of this story, let me just say that yes, I should have stopped dancing when the pain got worse, but dancers have to know what pain they can push through, and what pain is serious. I thought the pain was something I could just push through, I mean, plenty of my friends that dance have had shin splints before, so why should I worry? I continued to dance with the shin splints, even though the pain was worse every day and it was starting to spread into my left knee and ankle. I danced harder than I ever really had, taking five classes a week on pointe and working 110% in class.

It got to a point where I couldn’t jump or do anything, honestly, without it giving me a great deal of pain. I wanted to keep dancing, but my teacher finally insisted that I figure out what was wrong. I went to an orthopedist in my town and the PA told me he didn’t know what was wrong so he put me in a boot and told me to come back in a week. My X-rays didn’t show anything, so there really wasn’t anything to tell. I remember the day before this appointment I started having pain at the very top of my foot, in the ankle, where you point and flex your foot from, I didn’t really think anything of it. When I went to the doctor the next week, he told me he still didn’t know what was wrong, so I stayed in the boot for another week and slowly started dancing again.

My shin splints were starting to heal, I still had pain, but not as bad as before. I was starting to get back to dance when that pain in my ankle got really, really bad. I couldn’t plie, one of the most important steps in ballet, where you bend your knees, that is essential to almost every other step in ballet. The bone was starting to feel like it was pinching, and even like it needed to be popped, and when it got so bad that I couldn’t do much of anything, my teacher recommended a doctor in Atlanta who specialized in athletes and dancers.

When I saw the orthopedist in Atlanta I had an X-ray done and I told her what was wrong. After a few minutes of moving my leg around and feeling my muscles, she told me that I had Anterior Impingement Syndrome in my ankle in Dorsiflexion. Basically what that means is there had been repeated impact between the tibia and dorsal tarsal bone, which caused the formation of bone spurs. My ankle bone is catching onto the bone spur and pinching the spur, causing immobility in my ankle. She showed me and my mom how you can see the bone spur popping in and out when you move my foot around, and in my X-rays, you could see the bone spur out of my bone. They put me in a brace, gave me an anti-inflammatory, and told me to start physical therapy. I left the doctor feeling pretty hopeful.

It was around the beginning of November when I went to the doctor in Atlanta and the weekend of performances for the nutcracker was the firs weekend of December. The doctor told me that with physical therapy and some rest that I should be able to make it through the performances, though she wouldn’t recommend it.I started physical therapy the next week and did my exercises daily, and I wasn’t feeling a whole lot better, but I was hoping I could make it through the performances. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, our company started rehearsals in the theater. I went to the physical therapist three times that week to be taped and given an ultrasound on my leg to help my injury, and create more mobility. My ankle hurt during the rehearsals, but I tried to smile through it and then massage it after I danced.

Our company has four children’s matinees during our run, two on Thursday morning, and two on Friday morning. On Thursday I got through the first performance without much pain, but the second performance I was in so much pain that I started crying before I even left the stage. I had physical therapy after the show and didn’t have another performance that night so I stayed off of it the rest of the day. The next day went about the same during the matinees, I was fine during the first shown, but at the end of my dance during the second show my ankle was bothering me so much I was crying backstage. The last four shows went pretty well, looking back at it, I think why it would hurt so bad during the second shows was because the performances were back to back, while the other shows had long breaks between them.

There was a week and a half left of classes and rehearsals before winter break began and I took some of barre, but marked most of it. I was also sick with bronchitis after Nutcracker and spent most of the classes coughing my lungs out. So here I am now, two days until Christmas, I’m off from ballet for a couple of weeks and I have an appointment next Tuesday to figure out what the next step is for my ankle. Our goal was to get me through Nutcracker and then go from there, I’m not having much pain at all, but as soon as I start dancing again, it’ll bother me again. My physical therapist said that I can rest and feel better, but the only way to make it stop hurting permanently would be to shave off the bone spur, so hopefully I’ll find out my options on Tuesday.

I’m so happy to have the weekend completely off and I’m going to write a few posts and schedule them for next week. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and happy holidays, and that you have a restful winter break! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to dance your buns off!

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