Navicular Stress Fracture Test

Explore diagnosis and treatment for navicular stress fractures with our free guide on tests, symptoms, and recovery strategies.

By Russell Tan on Jun 03, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the tarsal navicular bone?

The tarsal navicular bone is one of the small bones located in the midfoot area of the foot. It plays a crucial role in distributing body weight across the foot and in providing stability and support during movement. Positioned on the medial side of the foot, the navicular bone forms joints with several other bones, including the ankle bone (talus) above and the three cuneiform bones in front, helping to maintain the foot's arch.

Printable Navicular Stress Fracture Test

Download this Navicular Stress Fracture Test to aid in early detection and management, optimizing treatment outcomes and preventing complications in sports medicine practice.

What are navicular stress fractures?

Navicular stress fractures are hairline breaks in the navicular bone of the foot, commonly resulting from an overuse injury or repetitive stress. This type of stress fracture in athletes involved in running, jumping, or other high-impact sports. Navicular stress fractures can be challenging to diagnose due to their subtle nature and the bone's location. Still, they require prompt treatment to prevent further injury and to ensure proper healing.


Symptoms of navicular stress fractures may include:

  • Persistent pain in the midfoot area, especially during or after physical activity, which may decrease with rest.
  • Swelling and tenderness over the navicular bone on the inside of the foot.
  • Bruising or redness in the affected area (less common).
  • Difficulty or discomfort when walking, running, or jumping.
  • Aching or throbbing pain at night or during periods of inactivity.


Navicular stress fractures are caused by repetitive stress or overuse of the foot, particularly in activities that involve impact or weight-bearing motions. Factors contributing to the development of these and medial stress fractures include:

  • Participation in high-impact sports such as track and field, basketball, soccer, and gymnastics.
  • Sudden increases in physical activity intensity or duration without adequate conditioning.
  • Biomechanical issues, such as flat feet or high arches, which can alter stress distribution across the foot.
  • Inadequate footwear that does not provide sufficient support or cushioning.
  • Poor training techniques or surfaces that increase the risk of injury.
  • Underlying bone health issues, such as osteoporosis, which can weaken bones and make them more susceptible to fractures.

How to test for tarsal navicular stress fractures

Testing for tarsal navicular stress fractures involves a combination of clinical evaluation and imaging studies to diagnose the condition accurately. Here's a step-by-step guide on how healthcare providers typically test for this type of tarsal navicular stress fracture progression of an injury or fracture:

Clinical evaluation

A thorough evaluation is needed to test for navicular stress fracture:

  1. Patient history: The healthcare provider will start by gathering a detailed history, focusing on any recent increases in activity level, changes in training routines, or specific incidents that could have led to injury.
  2. Physical examination: The examination will focus on the midfoot area, especially over the navicular bone. The provider will look for tenderness, swelling, or bruising. They may also perform specific maneuvers, such as the "navicular squeeze" or "hop test," to reproduce the symptoms and localize the pain.

Imaging studies

After a clinical evaluation, imaging tests and bone scans are crucial to confirm the diagnosis, as navicular stress fractures can be difficult to detect with physical examination alone.

  1. X-rays: Initially, X-rays may be taken to rule out other causes of foot pain. However, navicular stress fractures often do not appear on X-rays until the healing process has begun, which might be weeks after the onset of symptoms.
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI is more sensitive and can detect navicular stress fractures earlier than X-rays. It can show both the bone and soft tissue, providing a detailed image that helps confirm the diagnosis.
  3. Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan may be used to assess the fracture's extent and provide detailed images of the bone structure. It's particularly useful in planning treatment for complex fractures or involving significant bone displacement.
  4. Bone scan: Though less commonly used now due to the availability of MRI, a bone scan might be considered if MRI is not available. It involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into the bloodstream, accumulating in areas of increased bone activity, such as a fracture site.

Follow-up and monitoring

After initial diagnosis, patients with a tarsal navicular stress fracture will typically undergo a period of rest and immobilization, with follow-up imaging to monitor the healing process. The choice of imaging for follow-up will depend on the initial findings and the healthcare provider's clinical judgment.

The correct diagnosis and treatment plan for a tarsal navicular stress fracture are crucial for optimal recovery from a complete fracture and for the prevention of complications such as nonunion or chronic pain.

Navicular stress fracture test example (sample)

Our Navicular Stress Fracture Test template serves as a pivotal resource for healthcare professionals, akin to how the Workout Planner template empowers fitness coaches to structure exercise programs. It outlines a well-organized approach for diagnosing navicular stress fractures, detailing essential diagnostic steps, from clinical evaluation to imaging studies.

This template also provides a systematic blueprint, ensuring comprehensive and goal-oriented assessments tailored to meet the specific diagnostic objectives of each patient. This guide allows medical practitioners to achieve thorough and precise evaluations, facilitating accurate diagnoses and effective monitoring.

Download this free navicular stress fracture test example here

Navicular stress fracture test example (sample)

Treatment of navicular stress fractures

Treating navicular stress fractures typically involves a combination of rest, immobilization, and rehabilitation to ensure proper healing and to prevent future injuries. The treatment approach may vary depending on the severity of the fracture:

  1. Rest: Avoid activities that put stress on the foot, such as running or jumping, to prevent further injury and allow the bone to heal.
  2. Immobilization: Wearing a cast or a protective boot helps to stabilize the foot and relieve stress on the navicular bone. The duration of immobilization can vary, but it often lasts for several weeks.
  3. Physical therapy: After the immobilization period, physical therapy may be recommended to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Therapists can also improve gait and balance to reduce the risk of re-injury.
  4. Gradual return to activity: Resuming sports or physical activities should be gradual and guided by a healthcare professional to ensure the foot has adequately healed.
  5. Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage pain and inflammation. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any medication.
  6. Surgical intervention: In cases where the fracture does not heal with conservative treatment or is particularly severe, surgery may be necessary to realign and stabilize the bone.

Why use Carepatron as your testing software?

Using Carepatron as your testing software integrates the exceptional patient management, appointment scheduling, and health records maintenance features you value, directly into your practice's diagnostic and testing workflow.

Much like its acclaimed use in fitness and physical therapy sectors for enhancing care delivery and operational efficiency, Carepatron offers a seamless platform that promotes collaboration among healthcare providers. This cohesive approach ensures a coordinated treatment process, improving outcomes for patients undergoing tests and assessments.

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What is the recovery time for a navicular stress fracture?
What is the recovery time for a navicular stress fracture?

Commonly asked questions

What is the recovery time for a navicular stress fracture?

The recovery time for a navicular stress fracture can vary, typically ranging from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the severity of the fracture and the individual's overall health. It's crucial for recovery to follow a healthcare provider's advice closely, including rest and rehabilitation exercises. Some cases may require longer periods for full recovery, especially if surgical treatment is needed.

Is it ok to walk on a navicular fracture?

Walking on a navicular fracture is generally not recommended without professional advice. Doing so can aggravate the injury and prolong the healing process. Healthcare providers often suggest using crutches or a walking boot to offload weight from the foot until it's safe to bear weight again. Always consult with a healthcare provider for guidance on weight-bearing activities during recovery.

Does a navicular fracture need a cast?

Whether a navicular fracture needs a cast depends on the fracture's severity and location. Many navicular fractures, especially stress fractures, are treated with non-surgical methods, including immobilization with a cast or a protective boot to limit movement and aid in healing. Surgical treatment may be required in more severe cases, followed by casting. A healthcare provider will determine the best treatment plan based on individual assessments.

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