A navicular fracture is a fracture of the wrist, involving the
navicular, or scaphoid bone. It is not a terribly common sports injury,
but does pose some interesting complications due to the navicular's
shape and blood supply. It may or may not require surgery, and
definitely must be managed appropriately. Lets take a closer look at
this sports injury.
The navicular bone is one of the carpals of the
wrist. It is found along the thumb side of the wrist, just below the
base of the palm. It can easily be found by extending your thumb, and
looking at the wrist. See the two tendons that run from the forearm up
to the thumb? The navicular sits between then in the small space that
is created when the thumb is extended. This space is referred to as the
The navicular bone is irregularly shaped, and the
blood supply flows in from just one tip of the bone. This is important
when it comes to proper healing, or lack thereof, and I will discuss
this in just a moment.
How It Happens
While a wrist fracture can occur with any force
strong enough to cause
the bone to break, by far the most common mechanism of injury is to
fall on an outstretched hand. As you absorb your body weght on your
wrist, the carpal bones are compressed, and the navicular breaks. This
is by far the most common way to fracture the navicular, and it can
occur with many different sports.
The most common symptom of a navicular fracture is pain. It is usually
located along the thumb side of the wrist, directly over the bone. Pain
may also radiate into the hand and forearm. Swelling may occur over the
injury site, and you may loose range of motion, both at the thumb and
Navicular fractures must be treated very carefully. If you think that
you may have broken your wrist, you should see your physician
immediately. They will take an X-ray to determine if the bone is
broken. Initial treatment usually consists of placing the wrist in a
cast for several weeks, and then a splint for an additional amount of
time. The problem with this wrist fracture is that because of the shape
of the bone, the blood supply to part of the navicular may be cut off,
thus slowing the healing process.
Part of the treatment involves careful monitoring of the healing to
make sure that the bone is indeed getting better. Make sure that you
follow your physicians instructions to allow for the best outcome.
If the navicular fails to heal correctly, it may
require surgical intervention to put the two pieces back together.
Navicular fracture is not a common sports injury, but it can occur with
any sport, especially those in which you may fall. Treatment should be
directed by your physician, and generally involves a cast for several
weeks. If the navicular fails to heal, surgery may be necessary. Take
care to have your wrist looked at if you think you may have suffered a
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