What is a Navicular Stress Fracture? Here are some facts about this condition
One of the most common stress fractures seen in athletes is Navicular stress fracture. They are more particularly present to those involved in explosive activities involving jumping, sprinting, rapid braking/acceleration and changes in direction. The navicular is a crucial bone. It is positioned on the medial (inside) aspect of the foot between the forefoot (ball) and rearfoot (heel). It forms the apex of the arch of the foot and, in combination with the surrounding bones, ligaments and tendons. They are then known to stabilise the foot and assist with efficient foot function.
They are rare in the general population but represent 14-33% of all stress fractures and commonly occur in young males, especially in track and field athletes. Navicular stress fractures are considered a high-risk stress fracture partially due to their poor blood supply. It can also cause significant disruption to training and competition.
Risk factors of Navicular Stress Fracture
There are many modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors to the development of navicular stress fractures in athletes. These may include:
- High vertical loading rates e.g. heavy landing through running gait
- Inadequate footwear or equipment e.g. poorly fitting shoes or age >6 months
- Dramatic changes in training principles (intensity, duration, frequency) e.g. load spikes in mileage or intensity
- Insufficient recovery periods
- Running gait/technique
- Alteration of training surfaces e.g. increase in ratio of road running
- Foot shape/morphology e.g. reduced ankle mobility
- Inadequate nutrition e.g. low calcium or vitamin D intake
- Poor prior strength and fitness
Signs and Symptoms of Navicular Stress Fracture
Patients typically present with:
– Poorly localised, midfoot tenderness that is exacerbated by weightbearing in general. But in particular certain movements like standing on tip-toes and single leg hopping;
– Pain that can radiate along the medial or dorsal aspect of the foot
– Maximum tenderness being located commonly in the centre of the proximal dorsal aspect of the bone (known as the N-spot);
– Pain that is alleviated by rest in the early stages. As this condition progresses the pain will remain even after longer periods of rest.
Do you have any of these symptoms? One of our podiatrist can assist you and help what treatment options are best for you.
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at 44 (0) 207 101 4000.
We hope you have a feetastic day!☀️
-The Chelsea Clinic and Team