VIDEO: Cavus Foot Surgery and Recovery in Children * 2023
VIDEO: Cavus Foot Surgery and Recovery in Children * 2023

High arch feet

High arches are exactly what they sound like. The arch of your foot is very pronounced and doesn’t touch the ground when you stand evenly on both feet. This puts added pressure on the ball and heel of your foot.

You may have heard high arches referred to as “pes cavus,” which means “hollow foot” in Latin. If you take the wet footprint test, you’ll see why. The impression of your wet footprint is just your heel and the ball of your foot, with a mid-foot that doesn’t leave a mark.

High arch feet may be genetic, or they may be caused by a number of underlying conditions. People with high arches may experience pain, and in some cases, permanent damage to their foot structure. There are several treatments available, including orthotics, splints, physical therapy and surgery.

  • High arches don’t touch the ground when you stand evenly on both feet, concentrating your weight on your heels and the balls of your feet. That can lead to pain, corns and calluses, arch stiffness, and tight calf muscles.
  • High arches usually run in families, but if you develop them over a short period of time, see a doctor.
  • Properly supporting your high arches can help you avoid the common foot problems associated with them.

Problems associated with high arch feet

There are several conditions that can develop as a result of high arch feet.

Some of the most common include:


This condition is characterized by inflammation in the ball of the foot. People with metatarsalgia usually experience pain when standing or walking for long periods of time.

Plantar fasciitis:

The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects your toes to your heel. Plantar fasciitis refers to the inflammation of that ligament. People with this condition often have sharp heel pain. The pain is usually worse after waking up, but it improves the more you walk.


This condition occurs when the second, third or fourth toes bend at the middle joint, resulting in a hammer-shaped appearance. Hammertoes can be painful, and they may eventually require surgery.

Claw toes:

People with this condition have toes that curl downward and dig into the soles of their shoes. Claw toe can have a negative impact on the way that you walk.

Ankle instability:

High arch feet can cause ankle instability and increase your risk for ankle sprains.

Metatarsal fractures:

Because high arches can cause repeated stress, people with the condition may develop hairline fractures in the bones of the foot.

Causes and symptom of high foot arches

High foot arches are much less common than flat feet. They can be caused by a bone (orthopedic) or nerve (neurological) condition.

Unlike flat feet, highly arched feet tend to be painful. This is so because more stress is placed on the section of the foot between the ankle and toes (metatarsals).

This condition can make it difficult to fit into shoes. People who have high arches most often need foot support. A high arch may cause disability.

Many people are born with high arches, so genetics is certainly a factor.

However, in other cases, high arch feet are a symptom of another condition, such as:

  • Spina bifida.
  • Muscular dystrophy.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Polio.
  • Spinal tumors.
  • Spinal cord injuries.
  • Stroke.
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).
  • Corns or calluses on your heel, ball of your foot or side of your foot.
  • An inward-tilting heel.
  • Trouble finding shoes that fit well.
  • Foot pain, particularly when walking, standing or playing sports.
  • Toes that are bent when standing.
  • Shortened foot length.
  • Difficulty fitting shoes.
  • Foot pain with walking, standing, and running (not everyone has this symptom).

High arch feet treated

There are several treatment options available for people with high arches. What’s best for you depends on a few different factors, including the flexibility of your feet. Treatment for cavus foot includes:


You can place inserts in your shoes to provide additional cushioning and to help place your foot in a more favorable position. Orthotics are available over-the-counter — but for best results, you can have a custom pair made.


In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend bracing your foot and ankle to ease high arch symptoms.

Night splints:

This method helps stretch your arches and calf muscles while you sleep. This is especially helpful if your high arches result in plantar fasciitis.


If high arches cause occasional pain, icing your feet can help reduce discomfort and inflammation. Apply ice to the arches of your feet for about 20 minutes every two to three hours.

Pain relievers:

Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help ease pain and swelling.


If you have high arch foot pain that isn’t improved with non-surgical treatments, then cavus foot surgery may be recommended. During this procedure, your surgeon may alter soft tissue (such as tendons) or remove bone from certain areas of the foot. In severe cases, joint fusion may be necessary.

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