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Pediatric Dance Injuries: A Cross-Sectional Epidemiological Study.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyze characteristics of dance injuries evaluated by sports medicine physicians.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional epidemiological study of a 5% random probability sample of patients presenting for sports medicine evaluation between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2009.

SETTING: Sports medicine clinic of a tertiary-level pediatric medical center.

PATIENTS: A total of 181 pediatric dancers (171 female and 10 male; 14.8 ± 2.0 years of age) with 222 injuries.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Injury diagnoses, location, type, and treatment.

RESULTS: Forty-six injury diagnoses were recorded in this random sample of pediatric dancers, with the most common being tendonitis/tendinopathy, patellofemoral pain syndrome, apophysitis, ankle impingement syndrome, and hip labral tear. Most of the injuries occurred in the lower extremities, with knee and ankle injuries being the most common. Injury classification by type revealed that joints were the body structure most likely to be injured, followed by soft tissues, skeletal elements, and growth plates. The most frequent joint injury was patellofemoral pain syndrome. The most frequent soft tissue injury was tendonitis/tendinopathy. The most common skeletal injury was a pars stress reaction/spondylolysis. The most common physeal injury was apophysitis. Dancers were treated mainly with physical therapy, surgery, or physical therapy, in addition to orthotics.

CONCLUSION: Pediatric dancers experienced significant, and occasionally rare, injuries that may have long-term health consequences. Although injuries occurred mostly in the lower extremities and involved mainly joints, the most common specific diagnosis was tendonitis/tendinopathy. There is still much to learn about the management of dancers, and there is a need for further research into injury prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

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