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High arch

Pes cavus; High foot arch

 

High arch is an arch that is raised more than normal. The arch runs from the toes to the heel on the bottom of the foot. It is also called pes cavus.

High arch is the opposite of flat feet.

Causes

 

High foot arches are much less common than flat feet. They are more likely to 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.

 

Symptoms

 

Symptoms include:

  • Shortened foot length
  • Difficulty fitting shoes
  • Foot pain with walking, standing, and running (not everyone has this symptom)

 

Exams and Tests

 

When the person stands on the foot, the instep looks hollow. Most of the weight is on the back and balls of the foot (metatarsals head).

Your health care provider will check to see if the high arch is flexible, meaning it can be moved around.

Tests that may be done include:

  • X-ray of the feet
  • X-ray of the spine
  • Electromyography
  • MRI of the spine
  • Nerve conduction studies

 

Treatment

 

High arches, particularly ones that are flexible or well cared for, may not need any treatment.

Corrective shoes may help relieve pain and improve walking. This includes changes to the shoes, such as an arch insert and a support insole.

Surgery to flatten the foot is sometimes needed in severe cases. Any nerve problems that exist must be treated by specialists.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

The outlook depends on the condition causing high arches. In mild cases, wearing proper shoes and arch supports may provide relief.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Difficulty walking

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if you think you have foot pain related to high arches.

 

Prevention

 

People with highly arched feet should be checked for nerve and bone conditions. Finding these other conditions may help prevent or reduce arch problems.

 

 

References

Krause FG, Guyton GP. Pes cavus. In: Coughlin MJ, Saltzman CL, Anderson RB, eds. Mann's Surgery of the Foot and Ankle. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 26.

Winell JJ, Davidson RS. The foot and toes. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 674.

 

        A Closer Look

         

          Self Care

           

            Tests for High arch

             

               

              Review Date: 11/27/2016

              Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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