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 Why do they call it the Achilles heel? 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.
This painful foot condition is caused by an extra bone in the foot called the accessory navicular. Only about 10% of people have this bone (4 to 21%), and not all of them will develop any symptoms. The navicular bone is one of the normal tarsal bones of the foot. It is located on the inside of the foot, at the arch.
If you develop accessory navicular syndrome, you may experience a throbbing sensation or other types of pain in your midfoot or arch (especially while or right after you use the foot heavily, such as during exercise), and you may notice a bony prominence on the interior of your foot above the arch. This prominence may become inflamed, which means it will likely feel warm to the touch, look red and swollen, and will probably hurt.
To diagnose accessory navicular syndrome, medical staff ask about the patient?s activities and symptoms. They will examine the foot for irritation or swelling. Medical staff evaluate the bone structure, muscle, joint motion, and the patient?s gait. X-rays can usually confirm the diagnosis. MRI or other imaging tests may be used to determine any irritation or damage to soft-tissue structures such as tendons or ligaments. Because navicular accessory bone irritation can lead to bunions, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, it?s important to seek treatment.
Non Surgical Treatment
Many individuals with symptomatic accessory naviculars can be managed successfully without surgery. Standard non-surgical treatment includes shoes that are soft around the inside of the ankle can allow for any excess prominence of bone. Therefore, it is recommended that either shoes with plenty of padding and space in the ankle area are purchased, or pre-owned shoes can be modified by a shoemaker to create extra space in this area. For example, many patients will get their ski boots expanded in the area around the prominence, minimizing irritation. In addition, a shoe with a stiff sole will help disperse force away from the arch of the foot during walking, thereby minimizing the force on the posterior tibial tendon. An off-the-shelf arch support may help decrease the stress applied by the posterior tibial tendon. If necessary, an ankle brace applied to provide more substantial support to the arch may be successful where a simple arch support fails.
The original procedure advocated by Kidner involved shelling out of the accessory navicular bone from within the insertional area of the posterior tibial tendon and rerouting this tendon under the navicular bone in hopes of restoring a normal pull of this tendon. When treating younger children, history has shown us that simply shelling out of the accessory navicular bone from within the tendon and remodeling the tuberosity of the navicular bone can give you satisfactory results.
In general, you want to reserve advancement of the posterior tibial tendon for adults or those who have a more significant flatfoot deformity. You may also use this approach after determining that quality custom orthotics are only resulting in a slight decrease of symptoms.
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