Dr. Mark E. Pruzansky
Dr. Jason S. Pruzansky
975 Park Avenue New York, NY 10028

Dance Injuries

What are Dance Injuries?

Dancers are a unique population of patients to treat because of their flexibility, range of motion, and repetitive injuries acquired from hours of practice and little rest time. For dancers, the incidence of injuries is not as high as other types of physical activity. However, dance requires strength, endurance, and flexibility. The injuries seen in dancers are usually secondary to a movement that causes abnormal tension on the joint and muscles.

Depending on the style of dance, certain injuries may be more or less common. However, many dancers experience injuries to their joints, muscles, and ligaments due to the strenuous nature of dancing as a hobby or profession.

Types of Dance Injuries.

In dancers, there are two common types of injury. Overuse injuries are more frequent than acute injuries. The traumatic injuries are different from overuse injuries as they happen unexpectedly. Instead of the overuse injuries are the result of a chronic exposure of specific joints.

Some common injuries to the hand related to dancing are as follows:

  • Sprains of the interphalangeal joint of the fingers.
  • Sprains of the metacarpophalangeal joint of the fingers.
  • Wrist ligament injuries.
  • Elbow ligament injuries.

Additionally, dancers may experience fractures or dislocations as a result of landing improperly or improper body mechanics during aerial maneuvers of their colleagues during practice or performances. These injuries are common to ballet dancers, especially when catching colleagues midair.

Some of these injuries include but are not limited to:

Stress Fractures

Depending on the style of dance, some dancers may use a lot of their upper body strength to maneuver or even lift other dancers. In these cases, it is possible for a dancer to develop a stress fracture in the hand, wrist, or forearm.

It is recommended that dancers refrain from continuing to practice if they are in pain, have a decreased range of motion, or are experiencing other uncomfortable symptoms.


If a dancer slips or falls, it is possible that they may dislocate their shoulder, fingers, or elbow as a result. It is important that dancers properly train and build their strength to ensure that they avoid as many accidental injuries as possible.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation of Dance Injuries

The physical demands during dance practice and performances are often compared with the physical activity of the soccer players. Different studies have revealed the high incidence of overuse injuries rather than traumatic injuries.

The structures of the hand, wrist, and elbow are especially vulnerable to a wide range of dance injuries, including stress fractures, tendon injuries, sprains, and strains. These injuries are common during throwing or catching maneuvers of other dancers, but falling on an outstretched hand during dance activities have the possibility of resulting in an injury as well.

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are often painful and they can last a few seconds, and sometimes several minutes to an hour. They are caused by fatigue or tightness of the muscle, or as a result of an imbalance of fluid.

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains are characterized by the sudden contraction of a muscle and poor flexibility caused by overstretching the muscle. This causes tenderness of the muscle and swelling that can reduce range of motion. Muscle strains occur in the elbow and forearm.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are originated by overuse or repeated trauma. A stress fracture occurs when the muscles and bones become overloaded, consequently, the muscle is unable to absorb the shock of continuous impact, and the bone is under-equipped for the demand.

Causes of Dance Injuries

Dancers are exposed to several risk factors for injury. The most common issues that cause dance injuries depend on the type of dance and the frequency of classes, rehearsals, and performances. Other factors, like the duration of training, environmental conditions such as hard floors and cold training places, improper equipment, the body alignment and mechanics, antecedents or history of injury, and nutritional deficiencies can also lead to injury.

Any injury that is accompanied by bleeding, severe pain, loss of sensation, or increased weakness should be seen by an emergency surgeon as soon as possible.

Treatment Options for Dance Injuries

HandSport Surgery Institute uses minimally invasive surgery to help dancers return to their passion as soon as possible. The treatment recommended for a dance injury will depend on the type of injury and many other factors. For example, for traumatic injuries like sprains, the doctor may recommend R.I.C.E, compression, protection, immobilization and after a certain period immobilization.

Dancers with stress fractures need to limit the use of the affected region. Surgical treatment sometimes is needed to aid healing.

Torn ligaments may not heal to their pre-injury condition, so prevention is key for these injuries. Once the patient has a strain in their hand, wrist, or elbow, their risk of developing this injury again is increased.

The treatment of a muscle cramp usually involves stretching the affected area. The management of this type of injury usually includes massage and applying heat until the muscle relaxes and recovers. In severe muscle cramps, some dancers may be prescribed muscle relaxant medications and fluid management.

Mild muscle strains can be treated with the R.I.C.E method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Treatment may also include anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling. Physical rehabilitation is sometimes needed to help strengthen the muscle. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair any type of rupture associated with this strain.

Preventing Dance Injuries

Most overuse injuries, and even some traumatic dance injuries, can be prevented to allow dancers to continue doing what they love.

Some of the preventative measures recommended include eating well and staying hydrated before, during and after classes and performances, getting enough rest, and avoiding overtraining, doing cross-training exercises to build strength and endurance in all parts of your body, and wearing proper shoes and attire.

If You Believe You Have a Dance Injury, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute.

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People who have been hurt while dancing should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.

If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment and obtain an accurate diagnosis