Athletes who start to feel a gradually worsening pain in the top of their foot might have a navicular stress fracture. It's most common in sports that require sudden direction changes, jumping and running, such as football, soccer, basketball and running. The navicular bone is situated on the top of the foot right where it meets the ankle. Although it's only the size of a nickel, it can shut your season down quickly. It will get worse if it's not treated, though, so call us for an appointment if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms.
A navicular stress fracture will start out as a mild aching in the mid-foot, particularly during exercise, which goes away with rest. In more advanced cases, even walking may become painful. You might also feel pain when you press the top of the foot over the navicular bone.
Delayed Diagnosis Leads To Worsening Fractures
Most patients cannot remember any specific injury that led to the pain, but instead just remember an increasing discomfort over time. Unfortunately, this means the diagnosis is usually delayed. Many navicular stress fractures will worsen before they are treated.
Misdiagnosis Is Common
This type of stress fracture is often misdiagnosed because it does not normally show up on an X-ray. So it's important to see a podiatrist if you are experiencing these symptoms. We'll either do a bone scan or MRI to get a better look and determine if it is a navicular stress fracture.
If that's the diagnosis, this isn't a quick fix. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. navicular stress fractures require the foot to be immobilized in a non-weight bearing cast for six to eight weeks, followed by a gradual return to activity over another six week period. So, you're looking at a minimum of three months on the bench while recovering.