Navicular Stress Fractures
Michael Jordan suffered a navicular fracture
The year is 1985 and Chicago Bull’s Michael Jordan, widely regarded “Greatest of All Time” , sees his foot specialist for foot pain. X-rays were negative and showed no broken bones, but with a CAT scan, which shows X-rays in layers, uncovered a fracture in his navicular bone. This story is revealed in ESPN’s new documentary, The Last Dance.
What is a navicular?
The navicular is a bone in the middle of your foot. Its name is derived from its shape, which has the appearance of a boat. This bone serves a very important role as it allows significant motion and stress forces to pass from the ankle to the foot.
What is a navicular stress fracture?
A navicular stress fracture is a small crack in the bone that has a gradual onset of pain across the top of the foot. These fractures occur due to overuse or ongoing stress on the bone rather than a sudden injury. Due to its pivotal role in transferring forces from the ankle to the foot, the navicular bone is prone to repetitive forces that can cause damage to the bone. Repetitive activities that could result in navicular stress fractures include jumping sports (ie basketball), running, and increased exercise.
How are navicular stress fracture diagnosed?
A history and physical exam are the two most important pieces for diagnoses. X-rays may show a hairline fracture, but may time x-rays will appear normal. CAT scans and MRIs are helpful in confirming the diagnosis if x-rays are negative.
How are these injuries treated?
Your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend non-surgical or surgical options. Typically, the repetitive activity that caused the stress fracture should be stopped for 6-8 weeks. People who perform these repetitive activities due to their job, or are a high-level athlete, or still have pain after non-surgical treatment sometimes do undergo surgery. Surgery allows the patient to recovery more quickly and prevents the return of stress fracture. This treatment involves placement of a screw across the fracture.
When should I be evaluated by my foot and ankle surgeon?
Patients should make an appointment if pain persists after 1-2 weeks with walking or participating activities.