High Arched Feet – Pes Cavus and Oversupination

High Arched Feet

Do you suffer from High Arched Feet – Pes Cavus?

diagram of normal versus high arch foot

If you have feet with a high arch or instep while standing, you have foot condition called Pes Cavus, also known as high arched feet. The arch, or instep, runs from the toes to the heel on the bottom of your foot. Pes Cavus is the opposite of flatfeet (Pes Planus), and is less common than Pes Planus. Pes Cavus usually occurs in both feet and at an early age. The sudden appearance of Pes Cavus, or if it appears in one foot only, may be the result of trauma or a neuromuscular disease.
Pes Cavus may be initially asymptomatic, but often becomes progressively symptomatic with age. In general, Pes Cavus is a more bothersome foot type than a flatfoot. Less of the plantar surface of the foot is weight bearing resulting in increased stress on the heel and the ball of the foot (metatarsal heads).
The high arched foot is unable to absorb the shock of heel strike during the gait cycle. This creates abnormal stress on the soft tissues of the foot and lower leg. The shock is transmitted from heel and arch of the foot to the ankle, knees, hips, and lower back. It is common for pain to occur in one or more these areas. . The toes may develop a “clawing” deformity with painful corns on the top of the toes or at the tips. Painful plantar calluses are often present under the ball of the foot.
If you have Pes Cavus it can be difficult for you to fit into shoes. You may also benefit from arch support provided by flexible custom foot orthoses. Custom foot orthotics will off load pressure from the heel and forefoot.

Appearance of High Arched Feet

If you are standing, the instep looks hollow and most of the weight is on the back and balls of the foot (metatarsals head).
Your high arches can be either rigid (the arch does not move to a lower height) or flexible, (the arch can move to a lower height)
If a person is sitting on the edge of table with their feet hanging in the air, the front half of the foot (forefoot) will appear to be dropped below the level of the heel.
Your foot may be in a supinated position (feet will roll outwards or the heel will tilt inwards from behind).

cut away model of high arch foot

Symptoms and Complications of High Arched Feet

The symptoms of a high arch foot do vary. Evidence of the condition depends on the severity of the arch height, the availability of joint motion in the foot to help lower the arch and the activity levels or occupational demands placed on the high arched feet. Most people with high arches will have no pain or any other symptoms.

A person’s symptoms may vary from a mild problem with shoe fitting to significant disability.

Symptoms can involve:

  • Difficulty finding proper fitting footwear because the shoes are not deep enough due to high arch and the clawed toes.
  • Shortened foot length
  • Foot pain with walking, standing, and running
  • Metatarsalgia with pain in the forefoot/ ball of the foot (usually 1st and 5th metatarsal heads), with or without calluses/corns
  • Pain and stiffness of the medial arch or anywhere along the mid-portion of the foot
  • Morton’s neuroma with pain in the ball of the foot and lesser toes.
  • Pain in the heel and sole of the foot from plantar fasciitis.
  • Stress fractures of the metatarsals and other foot bones
  • Particularly in diabetics and those with compromised circulation, abnormal pressure may result in chromic ulcers of the heel and ball of the foot.
  • Strain and early degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) of lower extremity joints
  • “Pump bumps” (Haglund’s deformity) on the back of the heel
  • Associated discomfort within and near the ankle joint
  • Ankle instability with frequent sprains
  • Tight Achilles tendons
  • The knees, hips, and lower back may be the primary source of discomfort
  • Chronic lower extremity pain my lead to inactivity and diminished well-being

rear view of high arch foot

Treatment for High Arched Feet

A consulting podiatrist will begin by making a careful investigation. The podiatrist will need to rule out any neurological condition that is causing the high arched foot. This will depend on what is causing the pain, if anything. For instance, flexible high arches may not need any treatment.

  • Wear shoes with a good cushioning, depth and arch support which may help relieve pain and improve walking.
  • Debridement of corns and calluses
  • Various pads made from silicone or felt are used to get pressure off the painful areas
  • Control body weight to decrease load on the feet
  • Physical therapy modalities such as laser therapy for associated tendonitis.
  • Foot and ankle joint manipulations to help increase joint range of motion

Foot orthotics can provide support for stressed joints and soft tissues.

  • Orthoses are constructed to increase shock absorption and aid in the redistribution of weight relieves stress placed on the metatarsals.
  • Orthoses are usually custom-made semi-rigid or semi-flexible functional posted orthotics that helps prevent the foot from supinating. They often include shock absorbing material in the arch. These devices are prescribed based on a thorough biomechanical examination, gait analysis and if required having the patient walk or run over a pressure mat.
  • Over-the-counter arch supports will help for mild cases of Pes Cavus but they are often a poor fit for people with severe Pes Cavus.

See The Foot and Ankle Clinic about High Arched Feet

Podiatrists at The Foot and Ankle Clinic have vast experience in diagnosing and treating people who have high arches (Pes Cavus). Typically this treatment is very successful but involves a multifactorial approach.

At the Foot and Ankle Clinic our highly qualified team of Podiatrists are all members of the Australian Podiatry Association and offer a combined 50 years’ experience. They are trained to diagnose and effectively treat high arched feet via a range of treatments.

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