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Kohler’s Disease (Navicular Osteochondrosis)

Here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we treat many patients from Austin, TX and the surrounding communities who come to us with fairly common conditions. Whereas we obviously don’t see them as frequently, it is important to know that we are here to help with rare foot issues as well. One of the prime examples of this is Kohler’s disease. There is a decent chance your son or daughter will not experience Kohler’s, but keep us in mind for professional treatment in case he or she does.

Symptoms and Causes of Kohler’s Disease

Kohler’s—also known as navicular osteochodrosis—is a rare bone disorder that can affect children’s feet. Not thought to be a hereditary condition, experts are starting to come around to the thought that this condition is the result of an internal injury that negatively affects circulation to the navicular bone. Ossification, which is delayed bone formation, may play a role in that injury to the navicular bone. As a child gains weight, the additional force compresses the blood vessels, restricts circulation, and results in ischemia (tissue damage).

The symptoms of Kohler’s are typically mild and include limping, tenderness, swelling, and pain. These symptoms are typically experienced along the arch and placing weight upon the foot can cause additional discomfort. Given the mild nature, it is not unusual for treatment to be sought out only when the swelling and pain have existed for some time.

Related Conditions

There are other rare conditions that have similarities or are related to Kohler’s, including:

  • Freiberg’s Disease This is also a rare bone disorder and is characterized by pain and tenderness in the foot, especially towards the front. Symptoms develop as the result of progressive degeneration of part of a metatarsal (the long bones in the foot).
  • Gopalan Syndrome – In this syndrome, there are severe aching, burning, and cramp-like pains that develop in the soles of the feet. This is often experienced as a “pins and needles” sensation.
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Much like Kohler’s, the root cause behind this condition is pressure. In this case, the pressure is upon nerves in the feet. The accompanying symptoms include swelling, tingling, numbness, and painful burning. These can become quite intense and extend to leg muscles.

Diagnosing Kohler’s

Since the symptoms of Kohler’s—swelling, pain, tenderness—are shared with other conditions, it is important to bring your son or daughter to our office for a professional diagnosis. Our examination may reveal the pain and tenderness normally found in the dorsomedial midfoot, which is one indication that this condition is present. We will likely also order an x-ray or radiologic test to determine if there is a collapsed or flat navicular bone.

Kohler’s Disease Treatment

Once we have determined that this is, in fact, the condition affecting your child, we will begin preparing an effective treatment plan. The symptoms will resolve themselves in time, so this is a matter of managing them while they are present. To accomplish this, we might use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and swelling, along with a medial heel wedge or soft arch support.

If symptoms are great, your son or daughter may benefit from wearing a well-molded walking plaster cast for four to six weeks. It is important to note that symptoms often last longer for untreated cases than ones that are treated, so be sure to bring your son or daughter in at the first sign of the condition.

Treatment for Rare Foot and Ankle Conditions in Austin, TX

Kohler’s disease is not particularly common, but bring your son or daughter in for an appointment if he or she is experiencing symptoms like swelling, tenderness, limping or pain. The leading experts at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists will provide an accurate diagnosis and then carefully develop an effective treatment plan so your child can resume normal activities. Call us today at (512) 328-8900 or use our online form to schedule an appointment at our Austin, TX office.