Erika Pastel is one of the most promising young ballet dancers in Finland. She was born with an accessory bone in her ankle, and had it removed by Mikko Kirjavainen, an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in different dance genres. Thanks to Kirjavainen, Pastel was quickly operated and efficiently rehabilitated. The ankle hasn’t bothered the young dancer since the operation.
Pastel had her first appointment with Mikko Kirjavainen in 2016 when she was 16 years old.
“My left foot had bothered me for a while. It was painful to dance, and I couldn’t bend the ankle without it hurting. I was trying to avoid painful movements, but that wasn’t possible,” Pastel recalls.
She had tried to take care of the problem with several physiotherapists, but the pain remained. Finally, Pastel followed a recommendation to see Mikko Kirjavainen.
“I got an appointment quickly and had an ankle MRI. It revealed that I had an extra bone in my ankle causing pain. In my case, the bone was quite big, so Mikko suggested we remove it by surgery.”
Swift operation, quick healing
Pastel decided to choose an operation.
“It all went so fast and so well. I called Mikko to tell him I wanted the bone to be removed, and the very same day I was operated. I was already at home later that day.”
“It was a routine operation, a posterior ankle endoscopy to remove the congenital Os Trigonum. The bone in question often causes problems for athletes who need an extreme range of motion in their plantar flexion – they repeatedly extend the ankle so that the foot points down. It is common among ballet dancers, soccer players and other athletes”, says orthopaedic surgeon Mikko Kirjavainen.
The rehabilitation was hard for the young dancer, even though in hindsight the ankle recovered quickly.
“The physician gave me good instructions for rehabilitation. I was also lucky to be able to have the operation just before Christmas, and benefit from the ballet school’s holiday. I eventually went back to dance classes 2 months after the operation.”
Pastel is very happy with the treatment she received.
“It all went so well! The cooperation with Mikko was easy. I stressed out a bit before the operation, but his professionalism and obvious passion for dance insured me that I was in capable hands. After the operation he was exited to show me how big the removed bone was,” Pastel laughs.
The dancer’s left ankle is completely healed, but Pastel and Kirjavainen have encountered afterwards.
“I checked the situation with Erika’s other ankle some years ago when it had started hurting during the Finnish National Ballet School’s visit to Boston. In this case, proper rehabilitation was enough to fix the problem,” Kirjavainen explains.
Ballet as a career
Pastel has danced ballet all her life. In 2019, she graduated as a professional dancer from the Finnish National Ballet School.
“At the moment I’m dancing with the Norwegian National Ballet and will continue here for a year. I’m happy to be able to dance and to do what I enjoy.”
Mehiläinen Sports Hospital in a partner of Helsinki International Ballet Competition (HIBC).