Orthopedics Northwest

A Tiny Misplaced Bone Couldn’t Keep this Ballerina Off the Stage

“I love it a lot,” Corynn Holmes says simply, a smile traveling across her face. Corynn is tall and slender and graceful. Take a good look at her and you will know she’s talking about ballet. She’s a natural.

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Corynn, 13, is the youngest of three sisters. Her older sisters were track stars at Yakima’s Davis High School, but at age 11, Corynn went her own way.

“I saw Misty Copeland, who is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre on TV. She’s the first African American to have that high of a title in two decades,” she says in awe. “I started watching her dance and I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. So I started doing some research and watching YouTube tutorials. Then I said to my mom, ‘I really want to try ballet.’ And so I went to Miss Lisa (at Yakima School of Ballet), and that’s where it really started.”

By “it” Corynn is speaking both of her newfound passion for ballet and, not long after lacing up her first pair of pointe shoes, a chronic pain behind her right ankle. Corynn and her mom tried rest, ice and they saw a physical therapist. The pain would disappear, Corynn would dance and the pain would return.

“That bone is just a little thing!” says Corynn. The pain, however, was a big deal.

Corynn’s mom called Orthopedics Northwest in Yakima.

“The doctors told me that a little bone was getting pinched between my heel and my ankle,” Corynn says. “It was causing a lot of swelling. I’d take a break and the swelling would go down. I’d go back and it would swell.

“I went to Dr. (Raymond) Snyder initially for X-rays and a diagnosis, and then he wanted me to see Dr. (Shyler) DeMill for a second opinion. They agreed. Taking a break was not working. They thought removing it was the best thing.

“That bone is just a little thing!” says Corynn. The pain, however, was a big deal.

Most people don’t even have an os trigonum, the bone that was the source of Corynn’s troubles. People are either born with it or they are not. It makes itself known during the teen-age years, when one area of the ankle bone does not fuse with the rest of the bone. Most people don’t even know if they have an os trigonum. But others, like Corynn, develop a painful condition known as os trigonum syndrome. Not surprisingly, os trigonum syndrome is often caused by repeated downward pointing of the toes — common among ballet dancers, soccer players and other athletes.

Corynn needed help. She very much wanted to get back to class, up on her toes and on with ballet.

“Oct. 7, 2016, is when I went on pointe,” she says without a moment’s hesitation. It’s a big day in the life of a ballet dancer. “Me, Emma and Lizzy and our moms went to Seattle to get our first pointe shoes. I was so excited!

“Everything was going pretty well. And then almost nine months after I got on pointe, I was at a summer intensive near Seattle and we were dancing a lot. The second week I was having some pinching behind my right ankle. They said it would be OK if we iced it, taped it up and took it easy. But I got back home and it was still hurting and I couldn’t be in pointe shoes.

“Miss Lisa said to take a little break and come back. So I did. I got new pointe shoes because mine were dead. I was all excited and everything was going well. In the fall — November — I was preparing for The Nutcracker with the Moscow Ballet at the Capitol Theatre. I was still having a little bit of pain, but it wasn’t as bad and I was being careful.

“But then it started hurting again.”

On March 14, 2018, Corynn had outpatient surgery at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital. A month later? “I went back to ballet! We did physical therapy at Lakeview Physical Therapy and I did hot yoga. Both of those really helped.”

And now?

“I just love it so much,” says Corynn for what must be at least the 10th time in 20 minutes.“ I’m going to ballet tonight and I’m so excited."

“I’m so excited!”

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