JOURNAL ARTICLE

Stress fractures of the base of the metatarsal bones in young trainee ballet dancers

Walter Albisetti, Dario Perugia, Omar De Bartolomeo, Lorenzo Tagliabue, Emanuela Camerucci, Giorgio Maria Calori
International Orthopaedics 2010, 34 (1): 51-5
19415273
Classical ballet is an art form requiring extraordinary physical activity, characterised by rigorous training. These can lead to many overuse injuries arising from repetitive minor trauma. The purpose of this paper is to report our experience in the diagnosis and treatment of stress fractures at the base of the second and third metatarsal bones in young ballet dancers. We considered 150 trainee ballet dancers from the Ballet Schools of "Teatro Alla Scala" of Milan from 2005 to 2007. Nineteen of them presented with stress fractures of the base of the metatarsal bones. We treated 18 dancers with external shockwave therapy (ESWT) and one with pulsed electromagnetic fields (EMF) and low-intensity ultrasound (US); all patients were recommended rest. In all cases good results were obtained. The best approach to metatarsal stress fractures is to diagnose them early through clinical examination and then through X-ray and MRI. ESWT gave good results, with a relatively short time of rest from the patients' activities and a return to dancing without pain.

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