The accessory navicular is an extra piece of cartilage or bone on the inner side of the foot. It is found in about 10 percent of individuals and is present at birth. Many people who have an accessory navicular are never aware of it because they Why do they call it the Achilles heel? not experience symptoms. However, aggravation of the accessory navicular or the posterior tibia tendon, which it is attached to, can develop as a result of trauma, irritation from shoes, and excessive overuse.
This painful foot condition is caused by an extra bone in the foot called the accessory navicular. Only about 10% of people have this bone (4 to 21%), and not all of them will develop any symptoms. The navicular bone is one of the normal tarsal bones of the foot. It is located on the inside of the foot, at the arch.
Many people have accessory (?extra?) naviculars (figure 1) - a prominent extra bone extending from the navicular bone. Most accessory naviculars are completely asymptomatic. However, some individuals will develop pain on the inside of their midfoot. Pain may occur from the pressure of the shoe ware against the prominence, irritating either the bone itself or the fibrous junction where the accessory bone meets the regular navicular. Alternatively, the fibrous junction or interface may become painful as a result of tension applied by the posterior tibial tendon through its connection or insertion at that site. Often, individuals will be asymptomatic for years, however, a new pair of shoes or a change in their activity level can cause symptoms. The accessory navicular itself typically develops during adolescence, when the two areas of the navicular bone fail to fuse together.
The diagnosis begins with a complete history and physical examination by your surgeon. Usually the condition is suggested by the history and the tenderness over the area of the navicular. X-rays will usually be required to allow the surgeon see the accessory navicular. Generally no other tests are required.
Non Surgical Treatment
Rest is the most important factor in relieving your pain. You may need to immobilize your foot to allow the affected tissues to rest enough that they can heal. Icing the area will help decrease any inflammation and swelling. Our staff may recommend anti-inflammatory medications as well. Most likely you will need to change your footwear-and possibly add orthotics-to accommodate your bony prominence and relieve strain in the midfoot. Sometimes physical therapy may be able to help strengthen tissues and prevent additional injuries.
If non-surgical treatment fails to relieve the symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome, surgery may be appropriate. Surgery may involve removing the accessory bone, reshaping the area, and repairing the posterior tibial tendon to improve its function. This extra bone is not needed for normal foot function.
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