Navicular Fracture

(Tarsal Navicular Fracture)
  • 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
    si55550253 97870 1 Navicular Bone Foot
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • 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 fracture not due to any acute trauma (a stress fracture ).
  • Risk Factors

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

    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
  • Diagnosis

    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 —to take a picture of possible bone fractures
    • Bone scan— to look for possible bone fractures
    • CT scan —to take a picture of possible bone fractures
    • MRI scan —to take a picture of possible bone fractures. This is particularly useful with stress fractures.
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
    Nonsurgical Treatment
    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.
  • Prevention

    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: . Accessed June 26, 2007.

    Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: . Accessed June 26, 2007.

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