Sore muscles and stiff joints are par for the course when you're a dancer. But sometimes persistent (and painful) pinches appear—and stick around. Nerve pain is a very common occurrence, but it requires more than a quick rollout and dose of over-the-counter pain reliever. We broke down a few of the most prevalent types and their causes, as well as the most effective forms of treatment.
Pain… In your feet
According to Dr. Alireza Khosroabadi, DPM, "one of the more common dance injuries is Interdigital neuroma." These nerves run under your ligaments in the forefoot, and if they're squeezed too tightly (think pointe shoes), extra tissue builds up, resulting in nerve inflammation and swelling around your toes and the ball of your foot.
How to treat it: Wear flat shoes, stretch and roll out your feet, and, if you can, put them in a whirlpool (the perfect excuse for a pedicure!).
Pain… In your shoulder blades
If your arms have been getting a workout lately, either at the gym or rehearsing choreo with lots of upper-body movement, your shoulder blades absorb the brunt of the impact—shoulder nerves can become compressed due to overuse, resulting in a sharp pinch.
How to treat it: Alternate between ice packs and heating pads every 15 minutes to help reduce the inflammation. And, if possible, lessen your range of motion. Instead of performing crazy arm choreo full-out, try marking it for a few days until the pain begins to dull.
It's Unlikely, But…
If your pain isn't isolated, but rather running from your lower back and down your leg, there's a chance your sciatic nerve is the culprit. It's the largest single nerve in the body and, when pinched, can cause burning and tingling sensations everywhere from right under your bottom down to your ankles, usually only on one side of your body. Though sciatica doesn't often affect people under the age of 20, it's best to ask your doctor or physical therapist if you feel a similar pain.