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Dancer with Stress Fractures in Both Tibias

Hey there,

A little background on me: I was a very competitive Irish dancer (think "Riverdance") for 14 years. During my last year, as I was trainig for the World Championships, I delevoped 3 stress fractures...1 in my left tibia, and 2 in my right. I ended up dancing and still training for the Worlds on these stress fractures for 7 months. I was forced to stop competing afterward as it was far too painful.

After one year of not dancing, I got xrays and a CT scan to check if they were better, as I could not feel any more pain and was starting to dance and run again. The scans came back and I was told by 3 different surgeons that I needed immediate surgery. I decided against it, as there was a different method I could try.

A year after that, I have gone in for more xrays and I STILL have the 3 stress fractures! I have a refferal to see a sugeon to put rods in both my legs. I am terrified...

What is the recovery process like? Would I be able to be just as active afterward? My biggest fear is that I'll never be able to dance again...Irish dance is a lot of jumping and pounding on the legs.

I appreciate anything you guys can offer me.

Thank you
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replied April 12th, 2013
Especially eHealthy
irishdancer5,

Actually, what is more concerning is why your fractures did not heal, after a year off of any significant activity. Also, usually, if a tibia is still fractured, it will continue to hurt.

This is an extremely odd situation, to have continued fractures documented on x-ray and CT scan, but not have pain, and them not healing. You have to ask yourself why?


Placing IM nails in the tibias would provide some stabilization for unstable fractres, and the reaming of the intrameduallary canal may be enough to stimulate the fractures to heal. But, the fractures still have to heal. The IM nails cannot be counted upon to provide complete support of tibial fractures. They are essentially internal splints, until the fractures heal.

Once the fractures have healed, the nails are no longer of any need. Though the nails do not have to be removed, the interlocking screws sometimes do need to be taken out.

But, there are a lot of contact/collision sports athletes who compete with IM nails in place. In fact, the military no longer requires that special ops troops have IM nails removed before returning to full duty (including jumping out of perfectly good airplanes).


So, again, return to dancing after the nailing should not be that much of a concern, but rather, why have your tibias not healed?


Wishing you the best. Good luck.
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