Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Trigger Toe in a Ballet Dancer

George Shybut and Clay Miller
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 20 Number 2: Page 99 (June 2005)

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Abstract: ALM is a 36-year-old, white, female ballet teacher who presented with pain and swelling in the right ankle and with flexor weakness in the right great toe. She reports that she has been unable to demonstrate an en pointe position to her class for the past 6 months. She has had pain, weakness, and catching with flexion of the right great toe for the past year. Initially, she attributed the symptoms to new shoes, but even with shoe modifications her symptoms persisted. She reports that her discomfort improves with periods of rest, but with any attempt to return to her normal activities, she develops a large swollen mass behind her medial malleolus and pain with plantar flexion of the toe. In the past, she was able to flex her toe, but it would ¿stick¿ which would require her to passively manipulate it in order for it to move again. Now she is unable to actively flex the toe beyond 30°. When she initially noted the symptoms, she sought treatment from her message therapist and for a short time had relief from her pain; but as she returned to dancing, her symptoms recurred. She added herbal supplements, Pilate¿s exercises, and contrast therapy without improvement. Over the counter nonsteroidal drugs improved her pain and swelling but not her function.

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