Some people have more bones in their feet than others. Actually, it?s not all that uncommon to have extra bones in the feet. These extra bones area called accessory bones. The navicular bone, one of the small bones located at the instep or arch of the middle of the foot, is an example of an extra bone people are born with. It?s called the accessory navicular bone. During the maturation process, the navicular and the accessory navicular never fuse into one solid bone, but remain connected by fibrous tissue or cartilage. It is estimated that 4-14% of the population are born with an accessory navicular bone.
Most of the time, this condition is asymptomatic and people may live their whole lives unaware that they even have this extra bone. The main reason the accessory navicular bone becomes problematic is when pain occurs. There is no need for intervention if there is no pain. The accessory navicular bone is easily felt in the medial arch because it forms a bony prominence there. Pain may occur if the accessory bone is overly large causing this bump on the instep to rub against footwear.
Symptoms of this syndrome would include redness, swelling and tenderness over the navicular bone. The navicular bone is located on the inside of the foot approximately midway between the ankle bone and big toe joint. It will tend to be worse after activity and can be aggravated by those that wear very dressy shoes as opposed to casual shoes like sneakers. In other words, the flatter or less supportive the shoe, the greater the chance for pain.
It is important to examine the posterior tibial tendon and measure the extent of pain to this tendon proximal to the navicular bone. How do you get Achilles tendonitis? can clinically determine the amount of posterior tibial tendon involvement by assessing the degree of swelling, pain on palpation and strength. To evaluate the patient?s strength, have the patient stand and balance on one foot along with rising up on his or her toes.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most cases of accessory navicular syndrome may be treated conservatively with some sort of immobilization. This should allow the fibrous tissue between the two bones to heal. If a patient is extremely flat footed (pronated) then I lean more towards an orthotic than a boot as my main goal is to keep the patient's foot from flattening out too much and thus reduce the strain on the two bones. Supplementation with ice, oral anti-inflammatory medication. If the patient is athletic sometimes we can keep them active with an orthotic, but other times they have to give up their sport for a period of time to allow the condition to heal.
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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