Navicular Fracture

Overview

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 stress fracture unrelated to acute trauma.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of a navicular fracture include:

  • Trauma
  • High-impact sports, such as track and field, gymnastics, tennis, or basketball
  • Being an adolescent
  • In women, abnormal or absent menstrual cycles
  • Military recruits
  • Osteoporosis or other bone conditions

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Navicular fracture may cause:

  • Vague, aching pain in the top, middle portion of the foot, which may radiate along the 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. A physical exam will be done, which will include a thorough examination of your foot.

Imaging tests evaluate the foot and surrounding structures. These may include:

  • X-ray
  • Bone scan
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

Treatments

Treatment

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

Nonsurgical Treatment

Most cases of navicular fracture respond well to being placed in a cast that holds the bones in place. Crutches will be needed to help with walking. Once the bone has healed, a rehabilitation program can help with the return to normal activities.

Surgery

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 help reduce your chance of a navicular fracture (or other foot fractures):

  • Wear properly fitting, supportive shoes appropriate for the type of activity you are doing.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
  • Build strong muscles and practice balancing exercises to prevent falls.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Tarsal Navicular Fracture)

RESOURCES

Foot Care MD—American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society http://www.aofas.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org 

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://whenithurtstomove.org 

References

Coris EE, Lombardo JA. Tarsal navicular stress fractures. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(1):85-91.

Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00379. Updated March 2015. Accessed August 30, 2017.