Teen Overcomes Rare Disease That Causes Severe Shoulder Pain to Dance in the Nutcracker 

Behold the power of sheer will, determination, and tenacity!

New York teen Hannea Milliman overcame the rare disorder Parsonage Turner Syndrome – which causes severe pain in the shoulder and arm – to dance in her high school production of The Nutcracker.

Give that girl a standing ovation!

What is Parsonage Turner Syndrome?

Parsonage Turner syndrome (PTS) is a rare neurological disorder characterized by rapid onset of severe pain in the shoulder and arm. This pain may last for a few hours to a few weeks and is followed by wasting and weakness of the muscles (amyotrophy) in the affected areas.

In some cases, like that of Hannea, paralysis may occur.

The severity of PTS can vary widely from one individual to another due, in part, to the specific nerves involved. Some affected individuals may experience residual pain and potentially significant disability, with pain that may become worse with movement.

Dancing Away the Pain

Hannea’s journey with PTS began nine years ago, when she was only seven.

“I woke up one day, and it just stopped moving. It’s all kind of a blur,” recalls Hannea.

The event literally happened overnight and so suddenly, that doctors thought she had a stroke. They even considered amputation at one point!

Hannea captures the feeling perfectly:

“The chaos. It was so crazy.”

After seeing specialists, she was diagnosed with the rare PTS, and medical solutions finally became a little more clear.

Through the ordeal, dancing became a way to cope and keep her focused, leading up to a surgery where doctors reconnected her shoulder, taking her back muscle to put it in her shoulder and bicep.

The surgery was a success, but recovery – like many readers here can relate – wasn’t easy. Her mother, Christina, was afraid that Hannea’s love of dancing might strain her.

“It’s been a constant roller coaster,” said Christa. “Pain is there. I tried to stop her from dancing because I was scared.”

But Hannea was determined to dance.

Nine years after her first encounter with PTS, Hannea has rebounded with a vengeance, taking the stage in her high school performance of The Nutcracker; in a lead role no less.

“Always do what you love. Never give up. I always go by that. Because I do what I love and I have an arm that can’t move. It’s just do what you love and never give up.”

What an inspiration, befitting of the holiday season.

Encore, Hannea! Encore!


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