(Tarsal Navicular Fracture)En Español (Spanish Version)
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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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 ).
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 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
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—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
- Bone scan—a test that creates an image of the bones by using a low-dose radioactive substance injected into a vein
- CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
- MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body. This is particularly useful with stress fractures.
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.
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.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Coris EE, Lombardo JA. Tarsal navicular stress fractures. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030101/85.pdf . Accessed June 26, 2007.
Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=367&topcategory=Foot . Accessed June 26, 2007.
Last reviewed May 2008 by Robert E. Leach, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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