The bones of the foot occasionally develop abnormally in a child and an extra bone called an accessory navicular is present towards the inside of the foot, in front of the ankle. This bone is present in approximately 10% of the general population but not large enough to cause symptoms in the majority of these individuals. The extra bone lump present in childhood can be quite uncomfortable because it rubs on shoes. In addition, the feet associated with the accessory navicular are invariably flat. If the child is active and involved in various athletic activities, this will aggravate the inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the accessory navicular. This tendon is called the posterior tibial tendon and is responsible for maintaining the strength of the arch of the foot. The flat-footedness associated with the accessory navicular usually brings the child for treatment.
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.
Possible symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome include redness or swelling in the area of the accessory navicular, and pain that is present around the middle of the foot around the arch. Discomfort is most often present following periods of exercise or prolonged walking or standing. The bone may be somewhat visible on the inside of the foot pain after sitting (https://yolandatingey.wordpress.com/category/flat-foot) above the arch. Most symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome first appear in childhood around the time of adolescence as the bones are still growing and developing. For some with an accessory navicular, though, symptoms may not appear until entering adulthood.
Plain x-rays are used to determine the size of the accessory navicular. There are three main types of accessory navicular bones: a small bone embedded within the nearby posterior tibial tendon; a triangular shaped bone connected to the navicular by thick cartilage; and a large prominent navicular tuberosity thought to represent an accessory navicular that has fused to the navicular. If the status of the posterior tibial tendon needs to be assessed or if other problems are suspected, (ex. Navicular stress fracture) it may be necessary to perform an MRI. Although this is not considered routine, an MRI may be helpful in identifying the degree of irritation. An MRI would demonstrate fluid or edema that may accumulate in the bone as a result of the irritation.
Non Surgical Treatment
The foot may be placed in a cast or removable walking boot to allow the affected area to rest and decrease the inflammation. Physical therapy including exercises and treatments to strengthen the muscles, decrease inflammation, and prevent recurrence of the symptoms. Custom orthopedic devices that fit into the shoe providing arch support. Even after successful treatment, symptoms may reappear.
In my experience, the Modified Kidner procedure is one of the most reliable operations for reducing arch pain associated with an accessory navicular bone (a.k.a. os tibial externum). You can also use this procedure to treat a prominence at the inner aspect of the arch, which has been caused by an enlarged navicular bone. The most common patients to visit our office with these problems are between the ages of 8 and 15 and are involved in activities like ice skating, ballet and soccer.
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