Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot): Cause, Symptom & Treatment

When the foot has an abnormally high arch that affects walking and standing, the condition is called Cavus foot. Excessive weight is placed on the heel and ball of the foot which might cause pain and instability. This condition may occur at any age, with one or both feet affected.


The cause of Cavus foot could be due to a neurologic disorder, an inherited structural abnormality, injury or other medical conditions. For most cases, the condition worsens over time. Thus, it is important to diagnose the cause of the Cavus foot accurately.


The Cavus foot would appear to have a visibly high arch. Calluses might grow on the heel, side or ball of the foot because of the constant weight bearing on those areas. Patient would experience pain when walking and standing. Sometimes, the symptom of Hammertoes might be present, with toes bending downwards. However, if it is not caused by a neurologic disorder, the symptoms might not be visible.

Because the heel is tilting inward, the foot is unstable and more prone to ankle sprains and fractures. If the Cavus foot is caused by a neurologic disorder, patient may be seen dragging the affected foot when walking due to weakness in the muscles known as foot drop.


Whether non-surgical or surgical treatment is recommended depends on the severity of the Cavus foot and health condition of the patient. The doctor would run a few tests to determine the severity and diagnose the cause. If the patient has medical conditions like infection, blood vessel disease and diabetes, surgery would not suitable.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

For mild conditions, conservative treatment would first be introduced and observed if improvement progresses over sessions of physical therapy. Patient may have to wear custom orthotic devices or braces to stabilize and cushion the foot and manage foot drop. Otherwise, the shoes may have to be modified accordingly, with higher tops to support the ankles and wider heel bottoms for more stability.

Surgical Treatment:

If the condition is severe or if pain is not relieved with non-surgical treatment, surgery would be needed to correct the Cavus foot. Surgery might be done on the soft tissue to release the tendon or loosen a part of the muscle. If this method is inadequate, surgery might also be done on the bones of the foot. The goal is to flatten the arch so that weight can be evenly distributed along the inside and outside edges of the foot.

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