An accessory navicular is an extra bone that is on the inner center arch of the foot. Up to 2.5% of individuals are born with the accessory navicular. Throughout early childhood, this condition is not noticed. However, in adolescence, when the accessory navicular begins to calcify, the bump on the inner aspect of the arch becomes noticed. For most, it is never symptomatic. However, for some, there is some type of injury, whether a twist, stumble, or fall, that makes the accessory navicular symptomatic.
What causes pain in the back of the heel?
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.
The majority of people with an accessory navicular experience no symptoms, since, for the most part, the little extra bone simply isn?t large enough to cause problems. Unfortunately, some people lose on ?accessory navicular roulette,? and the bone begins to mess things up with the foot. These problems usually show up sometime in adolescence, when bones and cartilage in the body are settling into their final shapes (although occasionally people make it all the way through childhood, only to start experiencing discomfort and pain in adulthood).
A foot and ankle surgeon can diagnose accessory navicular syndrome by conducting a physical exam. X-rays and MRIs may be taken to access the condition and confirm the diagnosis of accessory navicular.
Non Surgical Treatment
Treating accessory navicular syndrome is focused on relieving symptoms. Some treatment methods are Icing to reduce swelling. Immobilization with a cast or walking boot to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Medications to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy to strengthen muscles. Orthotics to support the arch. Surgery may be needed to remove the accessory bone and reshape the area if other methods are not successful.
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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