(Tarsal Navicular Fracture)
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
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
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 the chance of a navicular fracture include:
- High-impact sports, such as track and field, gymnastics, tennis, or basketball
- Being an adolescent
In women, abnormal or
absent menstrual cycles
- Military recruits
or other bone conditions
Navicular fracture may cause:
- Vague, aching pain in the top, middle portion of the foot, which may radiate along the 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
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:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan. Treatment options include:
Most cases of navicular fracture respond well to being placed in a cast that holds the bones in place. Crutches will be needed to help with walking. Once the bone has healed, a rehabilitation program can help with the return to 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 doing.
- Do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones.
- Build strong muscles and practice balancing exercises to prevent falls.
Foot Care MD—American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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 March 2015. Accessed August 30, 2017.