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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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
unrelated to acute trauma.
Factors that may increase your chance of a navicular fracture include: TraumaHigh-impact sports, such as track and field, gymnastics, tennis, or basketballBeing an adolescent
In women, abnormal or
absent menstrual cyclesMilitary recruitsOsteoporosis
or other bone conditions
Navicular fracture may cause: Vague, aching pain in the top, middle portion of your foot, which may radiate along your archIncreasing pain with activityPain on one foot onlyAltered gaitPain that resolves with restSwelling of the footTenderness to touch on the inside aspect of the foot
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-rayBone scanCT scanMRI scan
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
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.
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 doingDo weight-bearing exercises to build strong bonesBuild strong muscles and practice balancing exercises to prevent falls
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:
Updated July 2009. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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