In an ideal situation, the navicular bone and the accessory bone will fuse together to form one bone. The problem that occurs is that sometimes the two bones do not fuse together and the patient is left with what is known as a fibrous union or basically a non solid union of bone to bone. This fibrous union is more like scar tissue and in theory can cause pain when excessive strain is placed upon it.
It is commonly believed that the posterior tibial tendon loses its vector of pull to heighten the arch. As the posterior muscle contracts, the tendon is no longer pulling straight up on the navicular but must course around the prominence of bone and first pull medially before pulling upward. In addition, the enlarged bones may irritate and damage the insertional area of the posterior tibial tendon, making it less functional. Therefore, the presence of the accessory navicular bone does contribute to posterior tibial dysfunction.
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.
To diagnose accessory navicular syndrome, the foot and ankle surgeon will ask about symptoms and examine the foot, looking for skin irritation or swelling. The doctor may press on the bony prominence to assess the area for discomfort. Foot structure, muscle strength, joint motion, and the way the patient walks may also be evaluated. X-rays are usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis. If there is ongoing pain or inflammation, an MRI or other advanced imaging tests may be used to further evaluate the condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
The goal of non-surgical treatment for accessory navicular syndrome is to relieve the symptoms. The following may be used. Placing the foot in a cast or removable walking boot allows the affected area to rest and decreases the inflammation. To reduce swelling, a bag of ice covered with a thin towel is applied to the affected area. Do not put ice directly on the skin. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be prescribed. In some cases, oral or injected steroid medications may be used in combination with immobilization to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy may be prescribed, including exercises and treatments to strengthen the muscles and decrease inflammation. The exercises may also help prevent recurrence of the symptoms. Custom orthotic devices that fit into the shoe provide support for the arch, and may play a role in preventing future symptoms. Even after successful treatment, the symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome sometimes reappear. When this happens, non-surgical approaches are usually repeated.
Surgical treatment of the accessory navicular syndrome with simple excision has the advantages of less invasive to the posterior tibial tenden and the medial longitudinal arch of the foot, shorter time of immobilization of the foot and stay in hospital, small incision and good clinical results. This procedure is one of the best selective treatments for the accessory navicular syndrome, especially for the patients without flatfoot deformity and old sprain injury.