High Arches (Cavus Foot): Problems, Pain Treatment and Surgery

High Arches (Cavus Foot)

Testing | Causes | Problems | Treatment | Surgery

What is a High Arch Foot?

A high arch foot is a condition identifiable in the way your foot sits on the ground. If you have high arches, your heel and ball are subjected to excessive weight, especially when standing or walking. Normally, your body weight pressure is evenly distributed over your entire foot, leading to stability and comfort.

Cavus foot can affect one or both of your feet at any stage of your life. If you experience pain or instability when walking or standing, you need to visit a podiatric physician as soon as possible for treatment.

How Do You Tell If You Have a High Arch?

Foot arch types

A visit to your podiatrist can help assess a high arched foot. However, there are a number of tests you can do on your own. The following tests can help you determine your foot arch type:

  • The Wet Test:
    You need a basin, water and a heavy, plain paper to run this test. Place your foot in the water in a shallow basin, wet your foot sole and imprint it on the plain paper. The shape of the imprint can tell whether you have a high arch, a low arch or a neutral foot.
  • The Wear Test:
    When you have a high arch foot, your shoes tend to wear out more on the outer part where your little toe sits.
  • Look at the Side of Your Foot:
    Stand barefoot on a flat surface; a side view of your foot can tell whether you have a higher arch or not. Other symptoms to look out for include the following:

    • Your shoes fit poorly.
    • Your toes claw up.
    • Your hips tighten on the outside when you try to press your entire foot evenly.
    • Your body weight falls predominantly on the outside of your feet when you stand up.

What Causes High Arched Feet?

Cavus foot can be your natural foot shape. Research shows that nearly 20% of the world’s population has high arched feet. Despite the need for care and management, your body gets accustomed to the condition over time. This isn’t the case if you get a Pes Cavus foot due to a neurological disorder.

Some causes are due to diseases and medical conditions such as:

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Polio
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Muscular dystrophy

You can also get cases of high arches related to a structural abnormality that’s inherited. A podiatric physician services or surgery is recommended to manage and treat these structural abnormalities.

Are High Arches Good or Bad?

High arches has advantages and disadvantages. If their presence work to help meet your goals, consider them as good; otherwise, they’re bad.

The Good- They are the most powerful in sports. If a fast change of direction is needed to stop, jump or accelerate swiftly, it is good to have high arches.

The Bad- They make you prone to muscle fatigue in the legs, knee pain, back and ankle pain. This is due to the fact that your feet have reduced the ability to absorb shock.

High arched feet supinate, resulting in frequent injuries on the outside of your legs. Moreover, you’ll also have to live with feet seen by many as not pretty in case saddle bone deformity affects you.

Problems Associated with High Arched Feet

Problems Associated with High Arched Feet

Extremely high arches unevenly distribute your body weight on your entire foot. You might experience severe pain on your feet, heels and balls due to the pressure that’s exerted on them. Standing, walking or general exercises become uncomfortable and/or painful activities.

Apart from painful forefoot and heel when you walk or stand, high arches make you prone to claw toes, metatarsalgia and calluses. There are also cases of people having trouble fitting into certain shoes while others have reported foot tilts, and the probability of spraining your ankle due to the destabilized limb is high.

Other complications associated with High Arches include:

  • Haglund’s deformity.
  • Morton’s Neuroma.
  • Ankle sprains.
  • Metatarsal Stress Fracture.
  • Peroneal tendon issues.
  • Difficulty finding the right shoes.

How to Fix High Arches?

A high arched foot problem can be difficult and challenging to treat because unlike a low arched foot; it is less associated with pain. However, there are a number of ways that have been proven to help manage and treat the condition. They include:

  • Wear Supportive Footwear:

Wear shoes with sufficient cushioning to ease pressure on the painful parts of your feet, make walking easier and promote comfort. There are high-top shoes with shock-absorbing materials suitable for sports activities. Opt for shoes with wide heels and thick insoles to increase your stability and comfort, respectively.

  • Ankle Braces:

A podiatric physician may recommend ankle braces to support your feet and prevent further damage.

  • Custom Orthotics:

Custom orthotics devices may be recommended by a podiatric physician to cushion and stabilize your feet.

  • Silicone or Felt Pads:

High arches can cause pain in the arch, heels and toe pads. Silicone or felt pads can increase the cushioning required to support your feet, reduce stress exerted on them and even realign your feet accordingly.

  • Corn & Callus Debridement:

This treatment provides symptomatic relief from mechanical stresses inflicted by faulty footwear. It is advisable to get it from an authorized and registered Podiatrist.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medication:

Due to high pressure on your heels and balls, you may experience severe pain accompanied by swellings. Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the swellings and relieve you from pain.

  • Stretching Exercises for High Arches:

There are basic cavus foot exercises you can do from the comfort of your home. However, consult your podiatric physician before you start the exercises or even introduce a different one.

Do I Need Cavus Foot Surgery?

A Cavus foot surgery is only recommended in severe cases. The procedure is done to alleviate and relieve pain; lower your arch and improve the function of your feet, and decrease the risk of other injuries such as broken bones and recurring ankle sprains.

After surgery, take time to rest and heal; however, this depends on the procedure. Research shows that recovery can take anything between six and twelve months.

Depending on the extent of deformity and targeted results, the surgery may involve tendon transfer, osteotomy, fusion, Plantar fascia release or removal of a section of your toe bones.

Conclusion

Get your feet scanned on a regular basis to know the status of your feet and in case of a high arch foot, you can get prompt treatment. Wearing cushioning supportive footwear is the key to comfortable high arches, enabling you to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Sources:

  1. ACFAS, Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot)
  2. AOFAS, Cavus Foot Surgery
  3. Runner’s World, Take the Wet Test: Learn Your Foot Type
  4. Podiatry Today, How To Treat The High Arched Cavus Foot