Getty Images

Ask Amy: Dealing With Severe Plantar Fasciitis

I have been struggling with severe plantar fasciitis for several years. When I'm moving between flat and demi-pointe, I experience a painful tearing sensation in my instep. I've been to my family physician, two podiatrists and three orthopedic surgeons, and have taken a year off to heal. Will I ever be able to dance without this pain? —Dallas


I've had plantar fasciitis, too, but your condition sounds extreme. Typically, the plantar fascia—a thick band of tissue that originates at the heel bone and runs underneath the foot—becomes inflamed, causing pain in and around the heel. According to Dr. Frank Sinkoe, a podiatrist who works with Atlanta Ballet, underlying muscle and postural imbalances throughout the foot, leg and hip, combined with overexertion, are often the causes of inflammation. It's usually treated with a stretching and strengthening program, orthotics, medications and physical therapy. Extreme cases may need cortisone injections and, in very rare cases, surgery.

It's also possible that you've been misdiagnosed. According to Sinkoe, Baxter's neuritis, a compression of nerves in the heel, is often mistaken for plantar fasciitis because of its symptoms and location. The treatment, however, is different. (One sign you may have Baxter's neuritis is if you have trouble curling your little toe in a podiatric assessment.)


You've seen a wide range of doctors, but do any of them have extensive experience treating dancers? This is key to getting a correct diagnosis and proper treatment. "Certain muscle groups are going to be tighter on dancers than on a regular person or even a runner," says Sinkoe, citing the hip flexors, lateral hamstrings and gastroc soleus muscles. "You shouldn't just treat the heel—you have to treat the whole kinetic chain." If possible, call a company or large dance school for recommendations of nearby dance medicine specialists. Since your case is so extreme, it may be worth traveling outside your area for a consultation.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks