Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …
New at De Gruyter

Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.84

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.401
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.452

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 18, Issue 4

Prevalence, localization, perception and management of pain in dance: an overview

Jasmin Lampe
  • Institute of Occupational Medicine, Social Medicine and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Faculty of Social Work and Health, HAWK – University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hildesheim, Germany
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Bernhard Borgetto
  • Faculty of Social Work and Health, HAWK – University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hildesheim, Germany
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ David A. Groneberg
  • Institute of Occupational Medicine, Social Medicine and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Eileen M. Wanke
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Occupational Medicine, Social Medicine and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-08-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0105


Background and aims

Pain is a highly complex bio-psychosocial phenomenon that may present a (potential) health risk and either occurs as a warning sign or a symptom of injury. It cannot be ruled out that these rising or changing requirements in dance of all styles, are reflected in health-related outcomes such as pain. The aim of this narrative review article is to outline an overview of prevalence and localization, concepts of performance pain and injury pain, pain perception and pain management in dance. At that consequences of pain and influencing factors focusing on different dance styles or forms of professionalism are discussed.


The databases CINAHL, Cochrane, Google Scholar, Medline, MeSH and Web of Science were screened for relevant articles.


Pain prevalence in dance is very high. Pain localizations can be related to high dance-specific mechanical stress on the musculoskeletal system. Depending on the pain characteristics, dancers perceive pain as “positive” (performance pain) or “negative” (injury pain). Concerning pain attitudes and management, dancers show an increasing pain tolerance. Pain seems to be accepted as a necessity, often ignored and dancing is continued despite pain.


The findings of this article suggest that occurrence of pain, pain perception, coping with pain and pain history appear to be connected to dance-specific mechanical stress as well as to socialization in dance culture. In dance, effects of pain on health seem to be associated with characteristics of pain and pain behavior.


The results highlight the high relevance of pain in dance and the need to take into account preventive as well as rehabilitative measures.

Keywords: pain; dance; causes; prevalence; perception


  • [1]

    Koutedakis Y, Jamurtas A. The dancer as a performing athlete: physiological considerations. Sport Med 2004;34:651–61.Google Scholar

  • [2]

    Aalten A. In the presence of the body: theorizing training, injuries and pain in ballet. Danc Res J 2005;37:55–72.Google Scholar

  • [3]

    Tesarz J, Schuster AK, Hartmann M, Gerhardt A, Eich W. Pain perception in athletes compared to normally active controls: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Pain 2012;153:1253–62.Google Scholar

  • [4]

    Aweto HA, Awolesi OM, Alao RO. Musculoskeletal pain and injury in professional dancers: prevalence, predisposing factors and treatment. Indian J Phys Ther 2014;2:6–13.Google Scholar

  • [5]

    Diogo MA, Ribas GG, Skare TL. Frequency of pain and eating disorders among professional and amateur dancers. Sao Paulo Med J 2016;134:501–7.Google Scholar

  • [6]

    Dore BF, Guerra RO. Painful symptoms and associated factors in professional dancers. Rev Bras Med Do Esporte 2007;13:67–70.Google Scholar

  • [7]

    Thomas H, Tarr J. Dancers’ perceptions of pain and injury: positive and negative effects. J Dance Med Sci 2009;13:51–9.Google Scholar

  • [8]

    Marchand S. The phenomenon of pain. 2. Auflage. Seattle: IASP, 2012.Google Scholar

  • [9]

    Loeser JD, Melzack R. Pain: an overview. Lancet 1999;353:1607–9.Google Scholar

  • [10]

    Hainline B, Turner JA, Caneiro JP, Stewart M, Lorimer Moseley G. Pain in elite athletes – neurophysiological, biomechanical and psychosocial considerations: a narrative review. Br J Sports Med 2017;51:1259–64.Google Scholar

  • [11]

    Schmidt R, Willis W. Encyclopedia of pain. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer, 2007.Google Scholar

  • [12]

    Hincapié CA, Morton EJ, Cassidy JD. Musculoskeletal injuries and pain in dancers: a systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2008;89:1819–29.Google Scholar

  • [13]

    Howe D. Sport, professionalism and pain: ethnographies of injury and risk. London, New York: Routledge, 2004.Google Scholar

  • [14]

    McEwen K, Young K. Ballet and pain: reflections on a risk-dance culture. Qual Res Sport Exerc Heal 2011;3:152–73.Google Scholar

  • [15]

    Ramel EM, Moritz U. Psychosocial factors at work and their association with professional ballet dancers’ musculoskeletal disorders. Med Probl Perform Art 1998;13:66–74.Google Scholar

  • [16]

    Nunes NMA, Haddad JJ, Bartlett DJ, Obright KD. Musculoskeletal injuries among young, recreational, female dancers before and after dancing in pointe shoes. Pediatr Phys Ther 2002;14:100–6.Google Scholar

  • [17]

    Wanke EM, Schmidt M, Leslie-Spinks J, Fischer A, Groneberg DA. Physical and mental workloads in professional dance teachers. Med Probl Perform Art 2015;30:54–60.Google Scholar

  • [18]

    Ramel EM, Moritz U, Jarnlo G. Recurrent musculoskeletal pain in professional ballet dancers in Sweden: a six-year follow-up. J Dance Med Sci 1999;3:93–100.Google Scholar

  • [19]

    Kauther MD, Wedemeyer C, Wegner A, Kauther KM, Von Knoch M. Breakdance injuries and overuse syndromes in amateurs and professionals. Am J Sports Med 2009;37:797–802.Google Scholar

  • [20]

    Miletic A, Kostic R, Bozanic A, Durdica M. Pain status monitoring in adolescent dancers. Med Probl Perform Art 2009;24:119–23.Google Scholar

  • [21]

    Wanke E, Schmitter J, Groneberg D. Analyse und Evaluation der Gesundheitssituation von Bewegung vermittelnden Lehrkräften am Beispiel der Tanzpädagogik. Sportverletz Sportschaden 2012;26:49–56.Google Scholar

  • [22]

    Cahalan R, Purtill H, O’Sullivan P, Kieran O. Foot and ankle pain and injuries in elite adult irish dancers. From Med Probl Perform Artist 2014;29:198–206.Google Scholar

  • [23]

    Miletic A, Kostic R, Miletic D. Pain prevalence among competitive international dancers. Int J Athl Ther Train 2011;16:13–6.Google Scholar

  • [24]

    Wanke EM, Fischer T, Pieper H, Groneberg DA. Tanzsport: Verletzungsmuster im Lateinamerikanischen Formationstanz. Sportverletz Sportschaden 2014;28:132–8.Google Scholar

  • [25]

    Anderson R, Hanrahan S. Dancing in pain. Pain appraisal and coping in dancers. J Dance Med Sci 2008;12:9–16.Google Scholar

  • [26]

    Harrison C, Ruddock-Hudson M. Perceptions of pain, injury, and transition-retirement: the experiences of professional dancers. J Dance Med Sci 2017;21:43–52.Google Scholar

  • [27]

    Allison K. Associations between musculoskeletal injury and selected lower limb biomechanical measurements in female amateur ballet dancers. Durban (South Africa): Durban University of Technology, 2014.Google Scholar

  • [28]

    Jacobs CL, Cassidy JD, Côté P, Boyle E, Ramel E, Ammendolia C, Hartvigson J, Schwartz I. Musculoskeletal injury in professional dancers: prevalence and associated factors: an international cross-sectional study. Clin J Sport Med 2017;27:153–60.Google Scholar

  • [29]

    Rivera DC, Alexander JL, Nehrenz GM, Fields BJ. Dancers’ perceptions of injuries. J Music Danc 2012;2:9–12.Google Scholar

  • [30]

    Tajet-Foxell B, Rose FD. Pain and pain tolerance in professional ballet dancers. Br J Sports Med 1995;29:31–4.Google Scholar

  • [31]

    Paparizos AL, Tripp DA, Sullivan MJL, Rubenstein ML. Catastrophizing and pain perception in recreational ballet dancers. J Sport Behav 2005;28:35–50.Google Scholar

  • [32]

    Claus AP, MacDonald DA. Interpreting pain symptoms and how pain affects neuromuscular control in dancers: if I’m in pain, how should I train? J Dance Med Sci 2017;21:5–12.Google Scholar

  • [33]

    Wallwork S, Bellan V, Moseley GL. Applying current concepts in pain-related brain science to dance rehabilitation. J Dance Med Sci 2017;21:13–23.Google Scholar

  • [34]

    Mainwaring LM, Krasnow D, Kerr G. And the dance goes on: psychological impact of injury. J Dance Med Sci 2001;5:105–15.Google Scholar

  • [35]

    Markula P. (Im)Mobile bodies: contemporary semi-professional dancers’ experiences with injuries. Int Rev Sociol Sport 2015;50:840–64.Google Scholar

  • [36]

    Tarr J, Thomas H. Mapping embodiment: methodologies for representing pain and injury. Qual Res 2011;11:141–57.Google Scholar

  • [37]

    Lai RY, Krasnow D, Thomas M. Communication between medical practitioners and dancers. J Dance Med Sci 2008;12:47–53.Google Scholar

  • [38]

    Sabo M. Physical therapy rehabilitation strategies for dancers: a qualitative study. J Dance Med Sci 2013;17:11–7.Google Scholar

  • [39]

    Ramel EM, Moritz U, Jarnlo GB. Validation of a pain question-naire (SEFIP) for dancers with a specially created test battery. Med Probl Perform Art 1999;14:196–203.Google Scholar

  • [40]

    Gupta A, Fernihough B, Bailey G, Bombeck P, Clarke A, Hopper D. An evaluation of differences in hip external rotation strength and range of motion between female dancers and non-dancers. Br J Sports Med 2004;38:778–83.Google Scholar

  • [41]

    Hamilton WG, Hamilton LH, Marshall P, Molnar M. A profile of the musculoskeletal characteristics of elite professional ballet dancers. Am J Sports Med 1992;20:267–73.Google Scholar

About the article

Corresponding author: Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. med. Eileen M. Wanke, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Social Medicine and Environmental Medicine, Dance Medicine Department, Goethe University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, 9B, 60590 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Phone: +49 (0) 69 6301 6650, Fax: +49 (0) 69 6301 7053

Received: 2018-06-25

Revised: 2018-07-16

Accepted: 2018-07-19

Published Online: 2018-08-11

Published in Print: 2018-10-25

Authors’ statements

Research funding: None.

Conflict of interest: None.

Informed consent: Not applicable.

Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 18, Issue 4, Pages 567–574, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0105.

Export Citation

©2018 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved..Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in