The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

NBA News: Joe Harris Has Surgery for Accessory Navicular Syndrome

Posted by on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016


We’ve followed a lot of professional athlete foot injuries over the past few years, with many repeat offenders showing up — torn Achilles, turf toe, and “Jones” metatarsal fractures, to name a few. Yet rarely do we find athletes undergoing foot surgery to remove extra bones. A condition called Accessory Navicular Syndrome that affects 4 – 14% of the population is just what necessitated surgery for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Joe Harris.1

accessory navicular syndrome
Some people have an extra navicular bone on the inside arch of the foot that must be surgically removed to relieve pain. Image Source:

What Happened to Joe Harris?

“There is an extra bone in his foot that is causing irritation, and the plan is to have it removed,” said Mark Bartelstein, agent for Joe Harris. According to, the 24-year-old NBA player “has been experiencing foot pain since the start of the season and recently re-aggravated it to the point where he had to sit out a practice last week.”2 The pain has been so great that Harris has only played a total of 15 minutes amid five games this season.

The surgery was successfully completed last week. Like most foot surgery recoveries, he’s not expected to return for a good two to three months. The Cavaliers were expected to take a conservative approach to Harris’s recovery, keeping him out the rest of the season rather than rushing him back. However, they went one step further and traded Harris (for a draft pick) to the Orlando Magic –who immediately put him on waiver, putting his future in question. Fansided predicts we’ll likely see Harris appear on a rebuilding team or the Spurs, who could use his extra 16 points a game.3

What Is Accessory Navicular Syndrome?

There are 26 bones in the human foot, but some people have extra bones that can be congenital or due to previous trauma. These bones are usually hidden and asymptomatic. The accessory navicular is the most common extra bone found in the foot; it is located within the posterior tibial tendon on the inner side of the foot, just above the arch. When there are symptoms, patients report visible bony prominence in the area, redness and swelling, and sometimes throbbing pain following activity.

Athletes are some of the most likely candidates to suffer problems due to the extra bone since pain usually stems from trauma, footwear rubbing the area, excessive activity, or overuse. Another common cohort of sufferers are those with flat feet or fallen arches, which puts more strain on the posterior tibial tendon.

Rest is imperative to recovery, so casting is sometimes advocated to offload pressure and force patients to slow down.4 Reducing swelling will work wonders in diminishing that throbbing pain, so icing, oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and injected steroids are all useful foot pain therapies. Over the long term, you will need to address the root cause of the pain. Physical therapy and orthotic devices typically complement the surgical approach.5 Since the extra bone isn’t needed for foot function, it can be removed and any damage to the posterior tibial tendon repaired.

NYC Foot Surgeon

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and Westchester has several board-certified podiatric surgeons on staff, including Dr. Josef J. Geldwert and Dr. Ryan Minara. They have worked with Olympic competitors and professional athletes, as well as active New Yorkers who want to maintain a range of motion and reduce pain using the latest techniques and tools the industry has to offer. Contact us to discuss your foot pain. We have a full range of diagnostic tools and complementary therapies to help you.



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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.