For most people with an accessory navicular, the extra bone does not cause any problems and most are unaware of its presence. But certain activities or circumstances may cause the extra bone or the tibialis posterior tendon that contains it to grow irritated. This is called accessory navicular syndrome, and its possible causes include sprains, overuse, or wearing shoes that constantly rub against the bone. Individuals who have a collapsed arch (commonly known as flat feet) may be at greater risk of accessory navicular syndrome, assuming they have the extra bone, because of the added daily trauma placed on the tibialis posterior tendon.
An injury to the fibrous tissue connecting the two bones can cause something similar to a fracture. The injury allows movement to occur between the navicular and the accessory bone and is thought to be the cause of pain. The fibrous tissue is prone to poor healing and may continue to cause pain. Because the posterior tibial tendon attaches to the accessory navicular, it constantly pulls on the bone, creating even more motion between the fragments with each step.
One obvious problem with the accessory navicular is that it may be large and stick out from the inside of the foot. This Can you grow taller with exercise? cause it to rub against shoes and so become quite painful. The fibrous connection between the accessory navicular and the navicualar, as well, is easy to injure, also leading to pain. This is kind of like a fracture, and such injuries cause the bone to move around too easily, leading to pain with activity. When the connection between the bones is injured in this way, the two bones do not always heal properly, so pain may continue unabated.
During your clinical exam, you may note erythema to the navicular prominence area and a foot that collapses in stance. While it?s common to see flat feet with these patients, this may not always be the case. You will note a significant difference in the off-weightbearing arch compared to the foot in stance, which is lower. These patients will always have pain to the navicular bone, especially at the major insertion of the posterior tibial tendon just proximal and also inferior to the navicular bone. You may also find they have pain on resisted adduction.
Non Surgical Treatment
Ideally, getting rid of the symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome will involve soothing the inflammation and irritation in your foot. So, for starters, your podiatrist may have you rest the area, allowing the inflamed tendon and bone to heal. This may be accomplished by wearing a cast or boot designed to keep you from moving the problem area. Your podiatrist may also suggest using ice to reduce the swelling and inflammation, and anti-inflammatory medications (like ibuprofen, or sometimes a cortisone shot or other steroid medication).
Once the navicular inflammation has lessened it is not necessary to perform surgery unless the foot becomes progressively flatter or continues to be painful. For these children, surgery can completely correct the problem by removing the accessory navicular bone and tightening up the posterior tibial tendon that attaches to the navicular bone. The strength of this tendon is integral to the success of this surgery as well as the arch of the foot. Following surgery the child is able to begin walking on the foot (in a cast) at approximately two weeks. The cast is worn for an additional four weeks. A small soft ankle support brace is then put into the shoe and worn with activities and exercise for a further two months.
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