Houston doctor pioneers surgery to correct stress fractures

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - A stress fracture is a common injury that can sideline runners, basketball players, cheerleaders and dancers. But now, a pioneering Houston surgeon is getting people back on their feet.

For six months, Shannon Lindamood, of Clear Lake, danced through the pain.

"I thought it was shin splints and so it was frustrating to not really know what was wrong with my body," Lindamood said.

A visit to Houston Methodist Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Kevin Varner revealed it was a stress fracture, which is a crack across her shinbone.

"They're actually more common than we think and we see it almost always in running and jumping athletes," said Dr. Varner explained. "So we'll see it often in track athletes, hurdlers, basketball players and of course, ballet dancers."

What's worse, Shannon ended up with what's called "the dreaded black line."

"In these types of cases, the bone fills up with a dense scar tissue and so when you get an X-ray, since there's no bone there, you get a clear black line that goes across," Dr. Varner explained.

That meant, without surgery, her injury would likely end her career.

"To hear that, I immediately burst into tears," Shannon said.

Using a new technique, Dr. Varner inserted a titanium rod from the knee to the ankle, with a large screw to hold it in place.

"A lot of people will say, 'Look, I want to continue to participate at the same level I've been in the past. I don't want to risk the risk of recurrence, so I want to fix it and be done,'" Dr. Varner added.

It's an outpatient surgery, so after about two weeks, the stitches come out and the patient can do some light activity. By six weeks, the patient is back to jogging and jumping.

Shannon says she will never forget that first day back in the studio.

"I remember just how amazing that feeling was to be back and I had such a smile on my face and I remember everyone in the studio just watching me and it made them happy too to see I was actually back dancing," Shannon said.

This month, you can see Shannon light up the stage at the Houston Grand Opera's performances of Aida and Die Fledermaus.

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