Stress fracture is caused by the overuse of a certain part of the body. This falls under the classification of incomplete fracture, characterized by a very small crack in the bone. This little crack gave way to another name which is hairline fracture. This usually happens to bones that are used for bearing weight, such as the metatarsal bones, the bones in the foot, and the tibia and fibular, the bones in the lower leg.
In stress fracture, the overused and tired muscles would pass on the stress to the bones, which will cause cracks or fractures. This is how dangerous overuse of the muscles can be and this fracture injury is not only created by a single blow to the injured area. The main culprit of a stress foot fracture would be the repetitive strain to the muscles. For instance, long hours of running or jumping would cause a strain on the muscles in the foot. This is when navicular stress fracture would take place in usually among athletes, making this fracture one of the common sports injuries. The daily activities of humans usually make use of the foot, which is already likely stressed by just carrying the weight of the body. The bones are just for support but the muscles are the ones that will bear the weight. However, if a lot of leg movements are involved, this is when the muscles would give up and pass the bucket of supporting the entire weight of the body to the navicular bone in the foot. If you don’t know how to pace your activities, you will be prone to navicular stress bone fracture.
What are navicular stress fractures?
These are types of foot fracture wherein the navicular is cracked incompletely due to the repetitive strain that it has sustained. The fractured navicular bone is found on one of the bones in the midfoot, precisely on top of the foot arch or the heel bone. The navicular bone is attached to a muscle called as the tibialis posterior. Every contraction of this muscle would impose a pulling force on the navicular bone. Moreover, being a metatarsal bone that carries the weight of the body, the navicular bone is also exposed to a compressive force. With the repetitive application of these forces on the bone, it will sustain damage in the form of a hairline crack. At first, these forces will only cause a bony stress reaction but if pushed further, this might result to tarsal navicular stress fracture.
What are the causes of stress fracture navicular bone?
A stress fractured navicular bone is usually caused by activities that let the bone carry too much weight and with repetitive impact. These activities include sprinting, running, dancing and jumping. The usual timing of occurrence of this fracture of navicular bone, just like how a broken fibula happens, is usually when the bones of the foot is used after quite a long time of not using them. To avoid stressing the metatarsal bones or the tibia and fibula, it is best to start out slow with any activity. As what is deemed proper, warm ups and stretching exercises should be done in order to prepare the bones of the foot for activities ahead. This little amount of education can already help a lot in preventing stress fracture navicular.
What are the navicular stress fracture symptoms?
There are several fracture symptoms that can signal the patient that medical attention should be sought. The doctor should be called even right after an accident happened, whether there are visible wounds or not. Some fractures cannot be detected if examined by people without medical training. There are types of fracture injury with hidden fractures that even diagnostic tests could not reveal them in the images. After the first aid treatment is applied, the patient and the people around should watch out for certain symptoms such as navicular pain, a typical symptom. Pain can be experienced by the patient right on the inner arch of the injured foot. Every time the broken foot with broken navicular bones is touched to the ground with the pressure of the weight of the body or moved, the pain will only increase even more. With every impact, the pain intensifies. This is also the case with other types of fractures, such as Monteggia fracture dislocation. When the fractured arm is moved, the pain would seem to double in intensity in the way that it also does with a Maisonneuve injury. Like in this navicular injury, ankle pain is also felt by the patient with Maisonneuve fracture ankle. The painful sensation does not only center on the injured area but also spread to the second and third toes, the outer part of the foot, or the inner part of it. Having this navicular disease in extreme cases might even prohibit the patient from walking. Pain will also be felt upon simply touching the foot with navicular stress injury a little pressure. Medicines for pain relief can be taken by the patient.
How is the diagnosis of a navicular injury done?
Initial fracture diagnosis can be done by a physiotherapist who can do subjective and objective examinations. However, when a fracture is not yet located, the right navicular stress fracture treatment will not be determined. If the doctor can, that might not be the most accurate way to treat navicular stress fracture due to lack of diagnosis. In order for the surgeon to know how to heal this fracture, further diagnostic tests can be done. These tests would include x-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan. These are also the usual tests required in diagnosing other types of fractures.
How is the navicular stress injury treated?
The stress fracture healing process will be interrupted every time the fractured bone will bear weight. Thus, if asked how to treat navicular stress fracture quick, the answer would be to completely veer the fractured limb away from any weight bearing task.
Another point that should be stressed in a navicular stress fracture treatment would be the importance of resting. The injured foot should take a rest. This is the fastest way to heal the injury completely and naturally. When the patient is obedient and rests the foot down, the fracture healing time will be quick. Complete rest will usually take one week while the recovery time will usually take eight weeks. However, it will even take more navicular stress recovery time to recuperate if the foot is used. The only activities allowed are those that will not cause pain to the foot. In the case of navicular stress fracture in children, parents should monitor them really closely. After the recovery period, another two weeks should be spent for more recuperative treatment with the patient doing only some minor activities. Then, the patient will be well on the road to recovery.
While on rehab, training errors should be replaced by good practices. For instance, the patient should know that starting out at an already intense level will only cause foot fracture stress. One of good practices in training is not to put more than ten percent of the volume of training in the weekly transition of activities.
Rehabilitation should have exercise routines that can help strengthen the muscles that will enable them to bear the forces that cause navicular stress fractures to the bones.
Better healing for navicular disease may also be obtained using a device called a bone stimulator. This is one way of healing the bone with the use of electrical impulses that stimulate the bones of the foot. The stimulation, according to certain studies, can help strengthen the bones as they produce more bone cells.
Another fracture treatment would be putting the injured foot in a fracture cast. This is to immobilize the foot just like how a brace could. The cast can help lift off stress from the damaged bone. Pressure from an air cast can also help improve blood circulation in the injured area for better healing. Crutches can be used as well to avoid letting the foot bear any weight at all.
Severe cases of bone injury would need navicular stress fracture surgery. This fracture surgery procedure refers to the use of pins on the injured area. Rehab for the foot with this type of treatment will take six months.