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Pointe pain!


AmieDancer
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The nail beds of my big toes are really rounded which causes the edges of my toe nails to dig in and give me an ingrown toe nail when I go en pointe. Because of this I can barely stay en pointe for 10 minutes without padding as it causes me a lot of pain. I have tried various things such as cutting the nail straight across but none of it worked until I found some single gel toe covers. They provide my toe with some padding which stops it from hurting as much, however recently they have got holes in. I went to buy some new ones today and was told that wearing those plus ouch pouches was too much and it would mean that I wouldn't be using my feet correctly so the lady at the shop wouldn't sell me both. I don't know what to do because I can't go en pointe without them! Does anyone have any advice?

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I think the lady at the shop was probably trying to be helpful.

 

Although I have never danced, both my big toe nails became gradually ingrown over the last couple of years.  Anyone who knows me can testify to the pain I was in nearly 2 years ago when my right toe nail became infected.  I could hardly walk for months.

 

You need to see a podiatrist for advice.

 

There is a procedure where the side of the toe nail is removed.  I have had both done.  I was told it was very painful after the procedure was first done but believe me compared to the pain I had been in before it most definitely was not.  You just have to be careful which shoes you wear for a couple of weeks.  I had only been able to wear one pair of shoes for months and when I was finally able to wear another pair without pain I threw them in the bin, even though they were favourite shoes!

 

I believe a lot of dancers have to have this procedure.

 

I would urge you to see a podiatrist/chiropodist as soon as possible.  You should be able to get a referral from your doctor, as I did.

Edited by Janet McNulty
Edited to add an extra sentence
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Could you snip out the sides of your nail yourself? I'm not a dancer any more, but my toe nails do feel they are digging in my toes when they grow and I find it is relieved if I take out a triangle of nail, cutting down from the top. My mum used to nag me that toe nails should be cut square, but I have done this since I started pointe work over 30 years ago and it does not seem to have done me any harm.

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Please do not do as Karen has suggested if your toenails are badly ingrown. I tried this to disastrous effect on my left toenail. I then needed an emergency appointment with the podiatrist as I was in so much pain. When she started digging around oh boy was I screaming but I had instant relief when she dug out a large piece of nail from under my skin!

 

What Karen has suggested works if your nails are not actually ingrown. It worked for me for years but I am not a dancer.

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In addition to seeing a podiatrist, I wonder if your pointe shoes could be contributing to your pain? Perhaps they are too wide, too short or not tapered enough. The style could be correct but the size wrong or vice versa. In addition if the platform is too soft this can cause damage to the big toe nail and nail bed. Have you ever been able to dance en pointe without pain?

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Thank you so much for all of your advice! I will definitely make an appointment with a podiatrist and hopefully that will help.

 

In addition to seeing a podiatrist, I wonder if your pointe shoes could be contributing to your pain? Perhaps they are too wide, too short or not tapered enough. The style could be correct but the size wrong or vice versa. In addition if the platform is too soft this can cause damage to the big toe nail and nail bed. Have you ever been able to dance en pointe without pain?

That's true, I haven't considered that. No I've never been able to dance en pointe without pain which is annoying, although my first pair of pointe shoes (Bloch ones I can't remember the style) were quite a bad fit for my feet which caused me pain. My gaynors that I have now are a lot more comfortable and support my arch better but my toes still hurt :(

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Were your shoes fitted with both big toe protectors and ouch pouches? You say you can't manage 10 minutes en pointe without padding but if you can get same shoes on with padding I'm thinking your foot is moving in box without padding which will be painful.

Try to find a podiatrist with an interest in ballet. They will be able to advice you on foot care too.

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Yes my shoes were fitted with padding which could be why. I just tried on both of my pairs of pointe shoes (Bloch triomphes that I no longer wear as they are too small and my current Gaynor Mindens) without any padding and I noticed that only my big toe touches the bottom. My second toe is fairly long and so curls under a little bit but the other three toes are nowhere near the bottom. Could this be my problem that the box shape is wrong for my feet?

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Once your toes have healed, after seeing the podiatrist, I would plan a visit to a number of fitters armed with your current shoes and padding. There are so many brands, makes and styles available that you should find something that is right for you. Of course the GM might be perfect when toes are pain free.

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Have you always had ingrowing toenails?  I'm wondering whether the pointe shoes are actually causing them because they might not be the best fit. How many makes and styles have you tried on when you've gone to the shop for fittings?

No I never had them before I started pointe work. I usually try on about 3 different makes and then a couple of styles and fits. I've tried on Bloch, Grishko, Sansha and Gaynor Mindens but only ever worn Bloch or GM.

 

Once your toes have healed, after seeing the podiatrist, I would plan a visit to a number of fitters armed with your current shoes and padding. There are so many brands, makes and styles available that you should find something that is right for you. Of course the GM might be perfect when toes are pain free.

That's a good idea, I will definitely do that. I think I need to spend more time in the shop trying on the different makes and styles as they always feel different in the shop to actually wearing them!

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Yes my shoes were fitted with padding which could be why. I just tried on both of my pairs of pointe shoes (Bloch triomphes that I no longer wear as they are too small and my current Gaynor Mindens) without any padding and I noticed that only my big toe touches the bottom. My second toe is fairly long and so curls under a little bit but the other three toes are nowhere near the bottom. Could this be my problem that the box shape is wrong for my feet?

Is your second toe longer than your first when it is straight? If it is, you may need some padding underneath the tip of your big toe so that both toes are even.

 

Ideally all your toes should be straight when encased in the box of the shoes, it's possible you may need to tape your toes to help align them correctly and even more importantly do exercises to strengthen the muscles in your toes. The podiatrist should be able to recommend specific exercises as it will depend on your feet.

 

A podiatrist who has an interest in ballet would be fabulous.

Edited by Lucinda
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  • 3 weeks later...

UPDATE: so I went back to Dancia where I purchased my pointe shoes and I told them about my problem with my big toes. We sat for a while trying different types of padding and different combinations until we found a solution: I need a spacer in between my first and second toes to straighten out my big toe and stop my weight from being on the corner. When going on pointe with a spacer, I no longer feel any pain whatsoever and last week I was able to complete my whole 30 minute pointe class properly with very minimal pain for the first time in years. I am over the moon that I can now dance properly in pointe shoes! Thank you to everyone for their help☺️

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  • 1 year later...

Does anyone know of a good podiatrist in London that can help with similar issues? My daughter has a bruise under her big toe nail due to pointe work and needs to see someone but I'd much prefer a podiatrist that works/has worked with ballet dancers. Many thanks in advance for any advice.

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bruise or subungual haematoma ?

if it;s a subungual haematoma  you  can treat them yourself if you are brave  enough  (  but that  may just  be  me  having an engineer  for a dad  who was the son of a toolmaker and a maternal GFather who  was a Pit Deputy) ...

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2 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

Mph what is a sublingual haematoma?  It sounds horrific!!

 sub unungual Haematoma   isa build up blood between the soft tissue and the nail  - i.e. there;s a curt or crush  that doesn;t  take the nail off ... 

they are  painful as  there is a lot of pressure 

the usual way to  treat them  even in  A+E is to  eithet get a   (injection needle) and 'drill' the nail or  heat a piece of  steel wire ( like paperclip wire)  to  red heat and  'melt' a hole i nthe nail  -  the blood then runs  out  and  the pressure is released  and with luck the nail is saved ... 

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