Cavus Foot: Struggling with High Arches

Building a house about angles and balance. If the beams and supports don’t meet at the perfect angles, the whole structure could come crashing down. This is true for other situations as well, particularly with arches. Most people recognize that too flat of an angle doesn’t support weight well—but too sharp of one creates an over-high arch that isn’t efficient, either. In your feet, an over-high arch, called cavus foot, can lead to a variety of painful foot problems.

The Effects of High Arches

Arches normally help your feet absorb pressure and shock when you stand and walk. They flex a little when you put your weight down and distribute pressure evenly from your heels to your forefoot. An arch that is too high, however, doesn’t do this efficiently—or at all. Instead of flattening slightly, it stays rigid. This directs excessive pressure into your heel and the ball of your foot instead of spreading it out.

Over time, this can contribute to heel pain and metatarsalgia. Standing and walking can grow more and more uncomfortable. Eventually the weight can strain the tissues in your lower limbs in other ways. You might end up with hammertoes or claw toes. Calluses on the ball of the foot are common side effects. A cavus foot may not be well-aligned, either, which may make you more susceptible to ankle instability and sprains. Unusually high arches can be difficult to fit into normal shoes, too, making it both hard and uncomfortable to use your footwear.

How High Arches Affect Your Feet

How You Developed Cavus Foot

High arches are much less common than flat feet, but like their opposite, they can be a naturally inherited foot shape. Usually you develop this during childhood when your arch forms. Once your foot has developed, the high midfoot doesn’t get worse or change its shape. In other cases, however, cavus foot is actually the side effect of a serious underlying condition. Spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, polio, cerebral palsy, and even strokes can cause the arch to change shape and get higher. In these cases, the problem usually is progressive and will continue to get worse and cause discomfort unless the foot and the underlying issue are both treated.

Managing the Pain from High Arched Feet

Identifying the high arches and their exact cause is critical for accurately treating them and alleviating the discomfort. Our team will need to evaluate your lower limbs and determine the underlying cause of your painful, elevated midfoot. This can include a variety of tests to check for injuries or nerve conditions that may be related to the problem. Once we have identified a culprit, we’ll help you begin treatment to alleviate the discomfort.

If you do have a neuromuscular condition that raised your arch, you’ll need to address the disease directly to help your feet. Then we can help you with the discomfort. In most cases, the pain can be treated conservatively. Custom, prescription orthotics help support your arch appropriately so that your body weight is distributed more evenly through your feet, reducing pressure on the ball of the foot and heel. You might need shoe modifications, too, to accommodate your arch height. Look for styles with tall uppers that won’t pinch the tops of your feet. If your arch has become unstable, you might need braces for more support. If conservative therapies don’t help, surgery may be a better option.

High arches don’t have to stop you from enjoying regular activities and normal life. With the right treatment and foot care, you can enjoy your favorite activities without pain. Don’t wait for complications to develop to seek out good foot care. Let Podiatry Associates, P.C. in Parker and Castle Pines, CO, help you manage your lower limbs. You can use our online form to reach out to us or request an appointment. You can also call us directly at (303) 805-5156.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC