Navicular stress fracture is considered one of the prevalent types of stress fractures that affect athletes, particularly those who engage in explosive activities such as jumping and sprinting.
The symptoms of a navicular stress fracture usually include poorly localized pain in the middle part of the foot that worsens with exercise. The pain can radiate along the interior arch of the foot and vanishes with rest only to recur again if the individual resumes training.
There is also tenderness felt when the thumb is pressed into the upper part of the foot over the navicular bone which is called as the N spot. To learn to recognize and manage bone injuries such as this one, enroll in a first aid class today.
A close look on navicular stress fracture
The navicular is one of the tarsal bones in the ankle. It is positioned on top of the calcaneus. A stress fracture is usually caused by overuse or constant strain, usually from high impact sports such as hurdling, sprinting and jumping. Incorrect technique or training errors can also contribute to the development of navicular stress fractures.
It is still unknown how the mechanism of injury occurs but it is believed that the navicular bone is pinched or compressed in between the bones to the front and back of it, resulting to compression. In case an individual has a diminished range of dorsiflexion in the ankle, he/she is more susceptible to develop a navicular stress fracture since the mid-foot is required to compensate for the lack of movement.
In most cases, an X-ray may or may not reveal the appearance of a stress fracture. Due to this, a bone scan or MRI will be requested by the doctor for assessment of the condition.
When managing a navicular stress fracture, it will depend on its severity. The injury is categorized as a stress reaction when the exterior part of the bone has not fractured. This would require a break from weight bearing activities with a walking splint until the symptoms are gone and then followed by a gradual return to proper fitness.
In case a stress fracture is diagnosed, complete break from weight bearing under a full cast is required usually for 6 weeks. After a span of 6 weeks, the N spot over the upper part of the navicular bone is felt. In case it is sore, the cast is reapplied for another 2 weeks in order to avoid weight bearing. If there is separation of the navicular bone or the fracture does not heal, surgery might be needed in order to fix the bone which involves the use of screws and pins.
Once the cast is removed, it is vital to mobilize the foot and ankle. Ankle mobility exercises and strengthening must be performed before the individual can run again. Exercises for the small muscles in the foot and calf raises are also vital. In addition, sports massage for the calf muscles can restore normal functioning quickly.
Do not forget to eliminate factors that are likely to trigger the injury. Errors while training or over training must be identified. The doctor will also check for any biomechanical factors such as overpronation of the foot that is corrected with orthotic shoe inserts.