It is important to find out if you have a navicular fracture, because
navicular fractures need treatment to heal well. With proper treatment and
follow-up, most navicular fractures will heal over time. Without treatment, and
sometimes with treatment, healing can be slow and difficult because parts of
the navicular bone don't have a good blood supply. If your navicular bone does
not heal well, you can have long-term pain, stiffness, or
arthritis in your wrist.
What causes a navicular fracture?
fractures occur when you stretch your hand out in front of you to protect
yourself from a fall. They can also occur when your wrist twists severely or is
hit very hard. Navicular fractures often happen while a person is playing sports
such as football, soccer, or basketball or during activities such as
Rollerblading, skateboarding, or bike riding. They can also occur as a result
of a car crash or a fistfight.
What are the symptoms?
Because most navicular fractures do not
cause the wrist to look broken and many cause only minor symptoms, it can be
hard to know if your navicular bone is broken. If the bone is broken, you may
Pain, tenderness, or swelling on the thumb side
of your wrist.
A hard time grabbing or gripping things or moving
and twisting your wrist or thumb.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a wrist that
sprained and one that is broken. If you have fallen on
an outstretched hand and your wrist hurts, be sure to see a doctor to find out
if you have any broken bones. Navicular fractures that are not treated properly
can lead to long-term problems.
How is a navicular fracture diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you questions
about your symptoms and about how and when you hurt your wrist. He or she will
then look at your wrist, find any swollen or tender areas, and see how well you
are able to move your wrist and thumb. Your doctor will also try to find out
how well blood is flowing to your hand and if you have any nerve damage in your
Most likely, your doctor will order
X-rays of your wrist. Sometimes an X-ray clearly shows
a navicular fracture. Other times, an X-ray may not show signs of a fracture. If
your doctor is not sure if your wrist is broken, he or she may refer you to an
orthopedist, a doctor who specializes in bone
problems. Because fractures can't always be seen right away, you may need a
follow-up X-ray in 1 to 2 weeks. In the meantime, to prevent possible long-term
problems, you will be treated as if you do have a fracture.