High Arches

Aka the pes cavus or cavus foot

A Pes Cavus or Cavus Foot Has a Very High Arch

A high arch is otherwise known as pes cavus or cavus foot. It is a somewhat common foot type. High arches are usually found in a rigid, structured, inflexible foot that lacks the mobile adaption and shock absorption needed for pain-free gait. If you have a high-arched foot, you will want to look for neutral shoes that have good support and a little bit of cushion to add shock absorption. There are also medical conditions in which a severe pes cavus foot may develop.

What is it?

When someone says they have a high arch they are referring to their longitudinal arch, which is the arch on the medial side of the foot that runs between the ball of the foot and the heel. People with this foot type tend to stand and walk on the “outside” (the lateral side) of the foot. The structure of the foot causes excessive supination and uneven weight distribution the ball of the foot and the heel when walking or standing, which can lead to pain and instability.

What Causes it?

A high arch is a common foot type that a child develops as he or she grows.

A severe pes cavus foot can also develop at any stage of life because of a medical condition. It is most likely to be caused by a bone (orthopedic) or nerve (neurological) condition but can also be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, Charco-Marie-Tooth disease, spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy, or a stroke. If the high arch is due to a neurologic disorder or other medical condition, it is likely to progressively worsen.

What Can I do?

For those who naturally have a high arch as their foot type, one of the most important things to do is be careful and deliberate when choosing footwear and orthotics. If you have a high arch you will want to avoid shoes and insoles that have the words “motion control” or “stability” in their name because these products are designed for someone with a flatter, more flexible arch. Instead you want to look for firm but slightly flexible arch supports and shoes. Since the foot is rigid you will find that shoes which add a little shock absorption will be the most comfortable. They can also help prevent injury. Athletic shoes are a “neutral” or “neutral cushioning” shoe will fit that description.

For those who have a high arch develop as the result of a medical condition, an accurate diagnosis is important. The underlying cause of cavus foot will largely determine the course of treatment to take and it is very important to work with a doctor. Corrective shoes or arch supports may help to relieve pain and improve walking. A brace or a high-topped shoe may be needed to help keep the foot and ankle stable. In the most severe cases, surgery may be needed to flatten to foot. The goal of surgery would be to decrease pain and increase stability.

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