A navicular stress fracture is a prevalent form of foot injury among athletes. Stress fractures are likely to occur among individuals who engage in sports that entail explosive movements and abrupt directional changes such as in soccer, sprinting and basketball.
Why does this type of fracture occur?
The navicular bone is structured with a few issues that make it prone to stress injury. One is the position of the bone which is in the central region of the foot. It is important to note that a high compression force is focused on this bone especially when the foot strikes the ground. Another issue is the supply of blood to the bone especially the middle area of the bone in which the stress fractures are likely to occur.
The area is located in the supposed “watershed zone” in which the supply of blood is diminished, thus the healing process even for minor injuries is difficulty and there is likelihood for progression to a stress fracture.
What are the signs and symptoms of a navicular stress fracture?
An individual with a navicular stress fracture usually complains of ambiguous pain in the midfoot right past the ankle joint. The pain can be quite bothersome during and right after engaging in physical activities and eventually resolves after rest.
In severe cases, the individual might have pain during normal activities such as walking. Remember that there is no history of an acute injury. It is sad to note that this often results to a delayed diagnosis and while it does not cause lasting issues, it can delay the start of proper treatment.
The commonly used treatment for a navicular stress fracture are non-surgical in nature. Nevertheless, it is vital that the right treatment is started since this type of fracture might not heal if not correctly managed.
The usual treatment is comprised of taking a break from physical activity, reduce weight-bearing with the help of crutches and immobilization using a cast. The length of treatment depends on various factors but the cast is utilized for up to 6 weeks and then followed by gradual continuation of weight bearing activities. The realistic time span to resume sports is approximately 6 months.
If an individual decides to continue activity early, this injury will take a longer time to heal and might not even fully heal at all. A navicular stress fracture that does not heal might require surgery to stabilize the damaged bone and stimulate the healing process.