Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot): Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Steffan had always been active. He played sports in high school and college, and he loved to hike and bike. But when he was in his early 30s, he started to notice pain in his feet. The pain got worse and worse until he could barely walk.

Steffan went to see a doctor, who diagnosed him with Cavus Foot. Cavus Foot is a condition in which the foot has a very high arch. This can put a lot of stress on the bones and muscles in the foot, leading to pain and other problems.

The doctor told Steffan that there was no cure for Cavus Foot, but there were treatments that could help to relieve the pain and improve his function. Steffan started wearing special shoes that helped to support his arches. He also started physical therapy, which helped to strengthen the muscles in his feet and ankles.

After a few months of treatment, Steffan’s pain was gone and he was able to walk without pain. He was even able to start hiking and biking again.

Cavus Foot is a condition that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. But with the right treatment, it is possible to live a normal, active life.

What is Cavus Foot?

Diagram of human foot bone illustration

When you have a cavus foot, your foot has a very high arch. Because the arch is so high, too much weight is put on the ball and heel of the foot when the person walks or stands. Cavus foot can cause pain and weakness, among other signs and symptoms such as Achilles Tendon Rupture or many more. It can happen at any age and in either one foot or both.


Cavus foot is often caused by a neurological problem or other medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, spina bifida, polio, muscle dystrophy, or stroke. In other cases of cavus foot, the high arch may be a sign of a skeletal problem that was passed down from a parent.

A correct evaluation is important because the root cause of the cavus foot has a lot to do with how it will be treated in the future. If the high arch is caused by a nerve issue or another health problem, it is likely to get worse over time. On the other hand, cavus foot that isn’t caused by a neurological problem generally doesn’t change how it looks.


Even when the person is standing, the arch of a foot with cavus will look high. There may also be one or more of the following signs:

  • Hammertoes or claw toes are deformed toes that look like a hand.
  • Feet with calluses on the ball, side, or heel
  • It hurts to stand or walk
  • A foot that is not solid because the heel is turned inward, which can cause ankle sprains.

Some people with cavus foot may also have foot drop, which is a weakening of the muscles in the foot and ankle that makes the foot drag when the person walks. Most of the time, foot drop is a sign of a neurological problem.


To figure out if a person has a cavus foot, doctors look at their family background. The foot and ankle surgeon looks at the foot to see if it has a high arch, warts, hammertoes, or claw toes. The patient’s muscle strength in the foot is checked, and his or her walking pattern and balance are watched. If there seems to be a problem with the nerves, the whole limb may be looked at. The doctor may also look at how the patient’s shoes are worn.

X-rays are sometimes given to find out more about the problem. The surgeon may also send the patient to a neurologist for a full review of their nervous system.

Non-Surgical Treatment

One or more of the following can be used to treat cavus foot without surgery:

  • Orthotic devices. Custom orthotic devices that fit inside the shoe can be helpful because they keep the foot stable and provide padding.
  • Shoe modifications. Ankles are supported by shoes with high tops, and shoes with heels that are a little bigger at the bottom are more stable.
  • Bracing. The surgeon may suggest a brace to help keep the foot and ankle stable. Bracing can also help stop foot drop.

When is Surgery Needed?

If non-surgical care doesn’t relieve pain and make the foot more stable, surgery may be needed to relieve pain, make the foot more stable, and make up for its weakness.

Based on each patient’s unique situation, the surgeon will choose the best surgery or set of surgeries. In some cases where there is a brain problem at the root, surgery may need to be done again in the future as the issue gets worse.

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