Cavus foot, also known as high-arched foot, is a medical condition in which an individual’s foot has an abnormally high arch. This can lead to an excessive amount of weight placed on the ball and heel of the foot, causing a variety of symptoms like pain and instability. Cavus foot can develop at any age and can occur in one or both feet.
Causes of Cavus Foot
Cavus foot is often attributed to a neurologic disorder or medical condition such as cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy, or stroke. In other cases, the high arch may represent an inherited structural abnormality. Proper diagnosis is important because the underlying cause of cavus foot largely determines its future course. If the high arch is due to a neurologic disorder or other medical condition, it is likely to progressively worsen over time. Conversely, cases of cavus foot that do not result from neurologic disorders usually do not change in appearance.
The arch of a cavus foot will appear high even when standing. Other symptoms may include hammertoes or claw toes, calluses on the ball, side, or heel of the foot, pain when standing or walking, and an unstable foot due to the heel tilting inward, which can lead to ankle sprains. Some people with cavus foot may also experience foot drop, which is a weakness of the muscles in the foot and ankle that results in dragging the foot when taking a step. Foot drop is usually a sign of an underlying neurologic condition.
The diagnosis of cavus foot includes a review of the patient’s family history, examination of the foot and ankle for a high arch, possible calluses, hammertoes, and claw toes, testing the foot for muscle strength, observing the patient’s walking pattern and coordination, and studying the pattern of wear on the patient’s shoes. If a neurologic condition appears to be present, a complete neurologic evaluation may be recommended. X-rays are also ordered to further assess the condition.
Treatment for cavus foot may include one or more of the following non-surgical options:
1. Orthotic devices: Custom-made orthotics that fit into the shoe can provide stability and cushioning to the foot.
2. Shoe modifications: High-topped shoes support the ankle, and shoes with wider heels add stability.
3. Bracing: Your doctor may recommend a brace to help keep the foot and ankle stable. Bracing can also be useful in managing foot drop.
When is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical treatment fails to adequately relieve pain and improve stability, surgery may be necessary to decrease pain, increase stability, and compensate for weakness in the foot. The surgeon will choose the best surgical procedure or combination of procedures based on the patient’s individual case. In some cases where an underlying neurologic problem exists, surgery may be needed again in the future due to the progression of the disorder.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of cavus foot, it is important to see a foot and ankle specialist for an evaluation. Dr Gilbert Huang DPM is a specialist in diagnosing and treating cavus foot. With proper treatment and management, individuals with cavus foot can maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.