Definition

A navicular fracture is a fracture of the navicular bone of the foot, a bone on the top of the midfoot. Athletes are particularly susceptible to fractures of the navicular bone. (There is also a navicular bone in the wrist.)


Navicular Bone of the Foot

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Causes

A navicular fracture can be caused by a fall, severe twist, or direct trauma to the navicular bone. It can also be caused by repeated stress to the foot, creating a fracture not due to any acute trauma (a stress fracture).

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

The following factors may increase your risk of a navicular fracture:

Symptoms

Symptoms of a navicular fracture include:

  • Vague, aching pain in the top, middle portion of your foot, which may radiate along your arch
  • Increasing pain with activity
  • Pain on one foot only
  • Altered gait
  • Pain that resolves with rest
  • Swelling of the foot
  • Tenderness to touch on the inside aspect of the foot

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam, which will include a thorough examination of your foot. Other tests may include:

  • X-ray —to take a picture of possible bone fractures
  • Bone scan— to look for possible bone fractures
  • CT scan —to take a picture of possible bone fractures
  • MRI scan —to take a picture of possible bone fractures. This is particularly useful with stress fractures.

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Most cases of navicular fracture respond well to being placed in a cast that holds the bones in place. You will need to use crutches to help you walk. Once the bone has healed, your doctor will recommend a rehabilitation program that will allow you to eventually return to your normal activities.

In rare cases of severe fracture, you may need surgery to realign the bone. This involves placing a metal plate and/or screws or pins to hold the bone in place. You will need to wear a cast or splint after the surgery. You will also need to use crutches to help you walk.

Prevention

To prevent navicular fractures and other fractures of the foot:

  • Wear well-fitting, supportive shoes appropriate for the type of activity you are doing.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
  • Build strong muscles and practice balancing exercises to prevent falls.