Background and Purpose: Injuries for the pre-adolescent female Irish Dancer (FID) are not well recognized. The purpose of this case study is to report imaging assisted diagnosis and management of atypical medial and plantar foot pain (MPFP) in an 8-year-old FID.
Description: The patient presented with chief complaint of diffuse left MPFP. The patient was initially evaluated by a Physical Therapist for persistent foot pain. The patient experienced minimal pain in non-weightbearing (NWB). Pain intensified in weightbearing (WB) escalating with a heel raise. The patient experienced pain with resistance testing, ankle passive range of motion (PROM) and first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) PROM. Diffuse tenderness with palpation over the medial column of the left foot was noted. The patient was unable to complete single leg dynamic activity on the left foot. There was suspicion for a metatarsal stress fracture (MSF). Radiographs were ordered and read as negative. The patient was treated with immobilization in a walking boot, WB as tolerated and relative rest including cessation of dance. The patient returned for re-evaluation 2 weeks after reporting no change in symptoms. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was then ordered.
Outcome: Results of the MRI identified 2 stress fractures in the first metatarsal. The treatment plan changed to NWB status with immobilization for an additional 6 weeks. The patient returned to full WB status and participated in all dance activity 15 weeks after the initial presentation to the Physician and 27 weeks after the initial onset of MPFP.
Discussion/Conclusion: In this pre-adolescent FID, the presentation of MPFP can be misinterpreted as a soft tissue injury. It is important to consider the diagnosis of first MSF in a pre-adolescent FID to allow appropriate management.