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Breaking Tiny Foot Bones and Getting Back Into Pointe Shoes

Posted Mar 06 2009 2:00pm
Ballet dancers and other athletes can develop shallow cracks, or stress fractures in their tiny foot bones. Inaccurate training, a suddenly increased practice schedule, badly fitting pointe shoes, or a change in flooring can cause this type of dance or sports injury. These injuries must be treated properly if you want to be getting back into pointe shoes as soon as possible.

The bones that commonly break from stress are in the forefoot, the section that extends from your toes to the middle of your foot. These tiny cracks do not extend through the bone, like most other types of fractures. They are typically stable, meaning no shift in bone alignment is caused. Nor do they displace bones so that the bone ends no longer line up.

Stress fractures often look like dark bruises. If the bone hasn't twisted and broken your skin, you might not suspect anything more than a bruising. This is referred to as a closed fracture.

The little toe, or fifth metatarsal seems to be an especially vulnerable area. Loss of control in pointe shoes such as a sharp fall off pointe with the weight twisting over to the outer edge of the foot (sickling in) may tear the tendon that attaches to this bone which results in a small piece of the bone pulling away.

A Jones fracture is a fairly serious injury. It occurs near the base of the little toe bone and interferes with the blood supply to the bone. This injury may even require surgery to heal correctly.

Pain, swelling, and often, discoloration, are the usual symptoms of a fracture in the foot. You may still be able to walk, but this usually increases the pain. If the pain and swelling do not significantly decrease in two or three days, or if the pain with walking doesn't stop, you should assume something is wrong.

See a doctor! Don't wait to get a diagnosis and treatment. You want to avoid developing chronic foot pain and arthritis. This could eventually distort the way you walk. Your body will always figure out how to compensate for a painful or weak area, but not in a way that will support ballet dancing or athletic training. The solution will become another problem.

Use an ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling, and put your foot up and rest. Wrap your ice pack so it doesn't touch your skin. Ice frequently, but not more than twenty minutes at a time.

Your doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist is going to see you through rehabilitation. Even though you may feel extremely anxious about getting back into pointe shoes, be patient with your tiny foot bones and learn how to prevent further injury.
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