Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Foot FAQ


My 18-year old son has taken up the fine art of ballet. But he has complained of foot pain for six months now. I took him to the emergency department and he had an X-ray. Nothing showed up on X-rays. He should be all done growing now so it's not growing pain. What do I do next?


Isolated foot pain isn't usually a sign of growing pains, although it is possible. Some males don't finish growing until well past adolescence.

Dancers are often subjected to pain and injuries from overuse. Male dancers dance up on toes (called demi-pointe) and also perform many leaps and jumps. Those activities added together can cause an injury called a stress reaction or stress fracture.

Stress fractures don't always show up on X-ray, especially during the first six to eight weeks. An MRI or CT scan may be needed. Sometimes the doctor will order a bone scan, which shows increased uptake of a radioactive substance at the area of bone injury.

Your best next step may be to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Find out of there are any doctors in your area who specialize in dance injuries.

Luis Muscolo, MD, et al. Stress Fracture Nonunion at the Base of the Second Metatarsal in a Ballet Dancer. A Case Report. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August/September 2004. Vol. 32. No. 6. Pp. 1535-1537.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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