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Common problems for ballet dancers: Hip and knee joint pain

Hi, this is Ble from J-CLINIC Phrom Phong branch in Bangkok.

We see many ballet dancers at J-CLINIC, and a common complaint is pain in both the hip and knee joints. In this post, I will discuss the causes and treatments for such pain, based on an actual case.


[A patient case]

Twenty-year-old Ms. M has been dancing classical ballet for 10 years. Two months before a performance, she felt pain in her right hip. Pain gradually began to appear also in her right knee, at which point she came to J-CLINIC for help.

[J-CLINIC’s diagnosis]

We checked Ms. M’s movements and pain and identified two causes of her hip pain.

(1) Overuse of her right leg
Because her left leg was weaker, Ms. M more often used the right leg as the pivot, which placed an extra burden on the right leg.

(2) Incorrect muscle use for internal and external leg rotation
Ms. M was using her muscles incorrectly to maintain leg turnout in the five basic ballet positions. This strained her right hip.

The knee pain was likely caused by the strain of shielding the right hip joint while dancing.

Given these causes, J-CLINIC’s treatment for Ms. M comprised:
1. Deep-tissue massage to relax muscle tension and adjust your body balance
2. High-voltage electric therapy for pain relief
3. Motion & manipulation therapy to improve hip- and knee-joint motion
4. Advice on stretching and other exercises

▼ High-voltage electric therapy

Ms. M continued her ballet lessons for the two months leading up to her performance while being treated twice a week at J-CLINIC, and she was able to perform as planned.

In movements such as relevé, where a dancer goes up on her toes, the hips, knees, and ankles align themselves along the same axis, which makes it common for pain or strain in one area to trigger pain in another.

It’s therefore important to seek treatment as soon as possible if you have pain or discomfort in your body.

For many dancers and athletes, overuse and fatigue are common causes of injuries. You can also get fatigue recovery care at J-CLINIC before and after lessons and important performances, so please come over for a consultation!

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