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High arch foot (pes cavus)

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Most people have an arch along the inner side of the foot, leaving a gap between the ground and the foot. Some feet have a higher arch than average. This is the opposite of a flatfoot. In combination with a higher arch, the ankle may be "rolled" outwards slightly - this is the opposite of a pronated foot. Often this gets referred to as pes cavus.


What does a high arch foot look like?

When standing with weight on the foot, the arch will appear higher. The heel often tilted inwards at the ankle (but not always). In many the toes will appeared clawed. When not standing the front half of the foot (forefoot) will appear to be dropped below the level of the rearfoot.

Cross-section of a high arched foot


What causes high arch feet?

High arch feet may just be a normal variant (ie some people just have higher arches), some may be hereditary (ie runs in the family) and in some cases there may be an underlying neurological problem that is causing it.

What are the symptoms of a high arch foot?

The symptoms of a high arch foot will vary depending on how severe the condition is and the activity levels of the person with it. Most will have no pain or any other symptoms. Symptoms may vary from a mild problem with shoe fitting to significant disability

Some of the symptoms can include:

  • there may be corns and calluses under the bases of the first and fifth toes.
  • Shoe may not fit very well because of the high arch and the clawed toes.
  • There may be some pain in the arch area, because of the pressure that it is under.
  • The feet will feel stiffer and less mobile than a foot that does not have a high arch.
  • An ankle sprain are more common in those with a high arched foot.

How is the high arched foot treated?

This will depend on what is causing the pain, if anything. Initially a careful investigation is needed to rule out any neurological condition is causing the high arched foot.

Generally, treatment can involve:

  • The use of foot orthotics or insoles to support and protect the foot and relieve pressure areas.
  • Different sorts of pads made from silicone or felt can be used to get pressure off the painful areas
  • If corns and callus are present, they can be treated by a Podiatrist.
  • Proper fitting of footwear is important.
  • In very sever cases, especially if pain is present and the height of the arch is progressively increasing in height, surgery may be considered.

Links of relevance to the high arch foot:

Foot orthotics

Fitting and buying footwear

Arch support


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ePodiatry is purely a source of information on the high arch foot (pes cavus) and should at no time be considered as replacing the expertise of a health professional. We recommend seeking professional advice for the high arch foot (pes cavus) and any foot problem before embarking on any form of self treatment or management. Neither the content or any other service provided through ePodiatry is intended to be relied on for medical diagnosis or treatment. Do not delay in seeking health professional advice for a the high arch foot (pes cavus) or any other foot problem because of something seen on ePodiatry.
©2004. The information contained on this page about the high arch foot (pes cavus) is subject to copyright. No part of the information about the high arch foot (pes cavus) contained on this page can be reproduced in any form without the permission of ePodiatry.

High arch feet (pes cavus)

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