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NBAer Missed 2 Seasons with Navicular Bone Stress Fracture

It took just one small bone to take down a big man and spoil 2 seasons of NBA play.

Joel Embiid, who was the 3rd overall draft pick in 2014 and picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers, has sat out most of the last 2 seasons with a fracture of the Navicular bone.

The Navicular bone got its name because it is shaped like a boat. This small bone is located on the inside of your foot just in front of the ankle joint and helps bear the weight from each step. The large Talus bone distributes the pressure from each step over the Navicular bone and the much larger heel bone. But the small Navicular bone in some cases can’t take the excessive stress.

Every time you take a step when running, the weight that hits each foot is equal to 3 times your body weight. For Embiid, at 250 pounds and nearly 7 feet tall, that’s a lot of pressure! As a basketball player whose game consists of mostly running and jumping, the pressure on the Navicular bone was too much and Embiid has suffered fractures of this bone twice in 2 years.

Navicular Bone Fracture Symptoms and Treatment

Although uncommon in the general population, Navicular stress fractures are often seen in athletes such as basketball players and participants in sports that involve jumping and sprinting.

Symptoms of this injury include an aching pain in the midfoot that worsens with exercise and goes away with rest. The pain may extend to the inside arch of the foot. The area over the Navicular bone may be tender to direct pressure.

Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM can accurately diagnose foot pain beginning with x-rays right in our office to confirm our diagnosis. Treatment options depend on the severity of the fracture. If the outer part of the bone isn’t fractured, wearing a walking splint to avoid weight bearing will help until symptoms have eased.

A more involved stress fracture will require full non-weight bearing by wearing a cast for 6-8 weeks. In severe cases, we will discuss surgery with you to insert a metal pin or screw into the bone to stabilize the area.

Embiid’s surgery was more complicated because it was his second Navicular bone fracture and involved a bone graft. He is expected to play in the upcoming NBA season.

Injuring the Navicular bone can be avoided with proper walking mechanics. Please ask us how we can help analyze your gait and recommend adjustments so that you push off and land on your foot correctly.

Don’t Suffer from the Pain of Stress Fractures

Fractures of the Navicular bone won’t heal by themselves unless the pressure is completely relieved to allow the body to repair itself. Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist can help with foot fractures as well as any other type of foot or ankle injury, condition or disease. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. If you are experiencing pain, call us today to get started on relieving your discomfort.