Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot)

Cavus foot — also called cavus foot deformity — is a condition in which the foot's arch is higher than normal. The high arch foot forces an inordinate amount of weight onto the ball and heel of the foot, causing pain and instability.

What You Need to Know About Cavus Foot

What is Cavus Foot?

Cavus foot is a condition in which a person has an abnormally high arch. The arch is the area between the heel and ball of the foot. In most feet, the heel is not visible from the front. However, the heel pad of people with cavus foot is visible from the front. This is because cavus foot inverts the heel bone (calcaneus) towards the other foot.

As a result, the bone behind the big toe (the first metatarsal) may bend down so far that the toes form a claw shape. The foot's exaggerated arch can prevent the person from having an even step, leading to possible pain on the outside of the foot, stress fractures, tendon damage, arthritis, and other issues.

People with cavus foot may experience issues that range from infrequent discomfort to significant skeletal damage. Cavus foot can also make it difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably.

Getting the best cavus foot treatment starts with a visit to Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center. Schedule an appointment at one of our Metro Atlanta locations now!


What Causes Cavus Foot?

Cavus foot can develop in one or both feet and can occur at any age. There are several causes of cavus foot, including genetic predisposition and other disorders. An estimated 20% of the US population has cavus foot deformity, making the condition less common than flat feet.

Cavus foot can also develop in anyone at any stage in life, often occurring after muscular or neurological disorders, including:

  • Stroke

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Spina bifida

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Spinal tumors or spinal cord injury

  • Polio

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

It is essential to diagnose the cavus foot early to determine its progression. If a muscular or neurological disorder causes high arches, the condition will likely worsen. However, if there is some other cause, the condition may not change.

Cavus Foot Symptoms

People may not feel obvious high arch pain or exhibit any apparent difficulties. The heel will tilt inward, and the high arch will be visible when standing. With the time, the person may experience:

  • Calluses side, heel, or ball of the foot

  • More pain on the outside of the foot and ankle

  • Tendon injury

  • Stress fractures

  • Ankle sprains

  • Hammertoes

  • Claw toes

People may also experience foot drop if a neurologic condition causes the cavus foot. Foot drop is a weakening of the foot and ankle muscles, resulting in the person dragging the foot when walking.

How is Cavus Foot Diagnosed?

Diagnosing cavus foot often requires a thorough review of the patient's family history. During your visit to Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center, we will perform an exam of your foot to determine the presence of an abnormally high arch, calluses on the heels or balls of the feet, hammertoes, claw toes, or other common physical symptoms. Patients will also demonstrate their balance and usual walking stride.

The use of diagnostic imaging may be necessary to understand the extent of the cavus foot deformity.

Cavus Foot Treatment

The condition's cause will determine the scope of the treatment for high arches. Patients with inherited cavus foot may improve with orthotics, braces, or supportive footwear. Other underlying muscular or neurologic disorders will require treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Initial, non-surgical treatment for high arches seeks to improve alignment, strength, and balance through various methods, including:

Orthotics: Orthotic devices are shoe inserts that provide stability and support to the foot. Patients can buy orthotics over-the-counter or have devices custom-made.

Bracing: Braces can stabilize the ankle and foot and decrease the severity of cavus foot symptoms.

Night Splints: Night splints stretch the patient's arches and calves at night.

Icing: Icing for twenty minutes can help reduce pain and swelling.

Surgical Treatment

Patients may require surgery for cavus foot if:

  • Non-surgical treatments do not relieve high arch symptoms

  • An underlying neurological or muscular disorder is the cause

  • The deformity and related issues are severe

During the procedure — or multiple procedures — the surgeon may remove bone, cut and realign the bone, alter soft tissue, such as ligaments and tendons.

Cavus foot can develop at any time, and cases can range from moderate to severe. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve symptoms or reveal more significant underlying neurological or muscular disorders.

If you have any questions about cavus foot, schedule an appointment with the Foot & Ankle specialists at Resurgens Orthopaedics today!


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