Common Injuries in Dancers

Dancers are graceful, strong, and seem to fly through the air without gravity taking any effect. It may be odd to imagine their potential for injuries, but the fact is that dancers often incur debilitating damage from their sport. Following are some of the most common dancing injuries.

Ankles and Feet

All of those leaps and bounds eventually take their toll when a dancer has an awkward landing or turns abruptly. Foot fractures, known as Dancer’s Fracture, can occur on the little-toe side of the foot. Achilles Tendinitis is inflammation that occurs in the large tendon behind the ankle, and ankle sprains are the result of overstretched or torn ligaments in the ankle that cause pain and instability. The cure for most of these issues is rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and allowing adequate healing time.


The knee is one of the most vulnerable parts of a dancer’s body. Changing direction too quickly, a bad landing, or simple overuse often sends a dancer to the orthopedic doctor for knee pain. The cause can be a torn meniscus or cartilage, tendinitis of the kneecap, hyperextension of the knee, or a tear or rupture in one of the critical ligaments of the knee. While many of these issues can be resolved with enough rest, ice, and elevation, torn ligaments and meniscus may require surgical correction. Osteoarthritis is a significant risk for dancers.

Hands and Shoulders

A dancer’s arms are usually outstretched in some fashion and this repetitive motion may cause inflammation in the shoulder joints to the point that bursitis or an impingement may occur. A bad fall could dislocate the shoulder or tear the rotator cuff. Dislocations will often resolve themselves, but it is important that adequate healing time be permitted or the risk of repeated dislocations is high.

Hands are another very vulnerable part for a dancer, and a fall could break or sprain a wrist,or  jam a finger. Repeated hand moves may also result in carpal tunnel syndrome, which is an overuse injury. Many of these issues can be treated with immobilization but some may require surgery.

An orthopedic doctor certainly sees his or her share of dancers due to the risks involved in the activity. If you are a dancer, be sure to always warm up adequately and see your orthopedic doctor immediately to prevent permanent damage if you’ve been injured.

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