What Are Navicular Stress Fractures?

A navicular stress fracture is a type of stress fracture that is located in the navicular bone, which is in the middle portion of the foot, at the top of the arch.  Among athletes, a navicular stress fracture is one of the most common types of stress fractures.

It is particularly common amongst athletes who are involved in sports that are high-impact or require a lot of jumping or sprinting.  Read on to learn more about navicular stress fractures and how to manage this type of injury.

Navicular Stress Fractures – What Are They?

A stress fracture is an incomplete crack in the bone.  It is typically caused by repetitive strain or overuse.  The navicular bone is one of the tarsal bones in the mid-foot, above the heel and at the top of the arch.  The navicular bone is attached to the tibialis posterior muscle.

When you exercise, the tibialis posterior muscle contracts and puts pressure on the navicular bone.  Bearing weight also puts stress on the navicular bone.  If you engage in repetitive activities, the strain on the navicular bone sometimes becomes more than the bone can handle, and a stress fracture can develop.

Stress fractures are more likely to happen when you have recently changed your training routine.  This can include increasing your level of activity or even wearing different shoes or training on a different surface (ie., running on pavement instead of a treadmill).

Symptoms of a Navicular Stress Fracture

People who have a navicular stress fracture tend to experience an achy pain spread across the middle portion of the foot.  Pain can also extend along the inside of the arch of the foot.  The pain usually gets worse with exercise, and may go away with rest.

Coping with a Navicular Stress Fracture

If you suspect that you may have a navicular stress fracture, you should see your doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment.  The type of treatment that your doctor recommends will depend upon the severity of the stress fracture.  In mild cases, your doctor may recommend that you wear a splint and reduce weight-bearing activities.

In more severe cases, you may need to wear a cast and eliminate weight bearing activities until the stress fracture has healed.  It is essential that you see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment; failure to properly treat a navicular stress fracture can lead to serious, long-term complications.

Prognosis for a Navicular Stress Fracture

If you are healing from a navicular stress fracture, it is important to remember that you will need to ease back into your regular exercise routine after your fracture has healed.  You should start with strengthening and mobility exercises to help the muscles regain their normal function.

You should also reassess your training programme and consider whether there are other factors that led to your developing a navicular stress fracture.  Problems with gait, such as over pronation, can lead to the development of navicular stress fractures.

Over pronation can be corrected through the use of orthotic devices, or custom arch supports, which are inserts that are worn inside the shoes.  Using these devices to correct a gait problem will help to minimize the risk of injury in the future.

A navicular stress fracture can require a long recovery.  You can help to avoid this injury by making sure that your feet are well-supported.  Stop in to Foot Solutions.  We can perform gait analysis to identify your gait style and determine whether you over-pronate.

With that information, we can help you find the best shoes and custom arch supports to balance your gait and give you the support that you need.