High Arches

High Arches

What Are High Arches?

High arches, also medically known as cavus foot deformity, is a condition where the arch in the middle of the foot is unusually high. While high arch feet are less common than flat feet, the issue can still lead to foot pain, deformities, and many other foot disorders. 

High arches affect the foot’s ability to properly support your body weight and absorb the force from movement. The weight load then shifts onto the heel or ball of the foot, leading to excessive strain on your ankle or lower leg. 

While high arches can lead to pain or discomfort, they can also bring on the development of other foot conditions, such as: 

  • Plantar Fasciitis: The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects your heel to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is when that ligament becomes inflamed, leading to sharp heel pain.
  • Metatarsalgia: This condition involves inflammation in the ball of the foot, which leads to pain while standing or walking. 
  • Hammertoes: This involves the middle toes bending at the middle joint, resulting in a hammer-like appearance, hence the name. 
  • Claw Toes: The toes curling downward, resulting in them digging into the soles of your shoes. It can create difficulty when walking. 
  • Ankle Instability: High arches can result in ankle stability, making you more prone to ankle sprains.

In many of these cases, a foot specialist can help correct or manage the conditions resulting from high arches.


What Are the Symptoms of High Arches?

People with high arches often notice symptoms associated with the condition, such as:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Bunions
  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Foot pain while walking or standing
  • Ankle pain
  • Knee pain
  • Underpronation (when the feet roll outward while walking or running)
  • Toes that bend while standing
  • Trouble finding shoes that fit

High Arches


What Causes High Arched Feet?

In many cases, people can be born with high arched feet, making genetics a factor. However, there are other cases where high arched feet can be a symptom of other foot conditions, such as:

  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy 
  • Polio
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spinal tumors 
  • Stroke 
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)

How Do High Arches Cause Pain?

There are three distinct types of arches in your foot:

  • The medial arch runs along the inner edge of your feet
  • The lateral arch runs down the outer edge of your feet
  • The transverse arch runs across the width of your feet

These three arches include a complex set of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that help support your body weight while standing or walking. They are also responsible for absorbing the force when your feet connect with the ground and push you forward. 

If you have high arches, all the force experienced on your feet becomes absorbed into your heel and the ball of the foot. You’ll notice the pain and discomfort anytime you take a step, as your arches have to support your weight. The amount of force from walking or running can add stress to your ankles and lower legs, leading to foot deformities and other conditions.


How Are High Arches Diagnosed?

Diagnosing cavus feet can be performed by a healthcare provider using physical exams and tests to evaluate your feet. Those tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Electromyography 
  • Nerve conduction study 


How Do I Treat High Arched Feet?

There are various treatment options available for people with unusually high arches. Some treatments will depend on varied factors, such as the flexibility of your foot.

Cavus foot treatments can include the following:

  • Orthotics: Orthotic inserts are placed in your shoes to provide cushioning for your foot and put it in a more comfortable position. While you can purchase over-the-counter orthotics, it may be best to have them custom-made for your foot needs. 
  • Bracing: A healthcare provider may recommend bracing your foot to reduce the symptoms associated with high arches. 
  • Night Splints: A night splint can aid in stretching the muscles in your arches and calves while you’re sleeping. This method can be highly beneficial if plantar fasciitis develops 

because of high arch feet. 

  • Foot and Lower Limb Stretches: Regularly performing stretching exercises on your feet can help strengthen the muscles to withstand the burden placed on them. The stretches can also relieve tightness from cavus feet. 
  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can provide relief with pain or swelling. 
  • Icing: High arches can result in foot pain and discomfort, which can be reduced by icing your foot. Apply ice or an ice pack for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours. 

Our knowledgeable and skilled foot specialists can assist you in deciding what treatment option is right for you. Schedule a foot care appointment with us today!

Surgical Treatment 

If regular treatment doesn’t help your foot pain, a healthcare provider may recommend surgery in more severe cases. Cavus foot surgery may include altering your tendons or removing bone from specific areas of the foot. If the high arch foot condition is more problematic, then joint fusion may be necessary. 

However, there may be risks due to the complicated nature of these surgeries, such as:

  • Allergies to anaesthesia
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Blood clots
  • Post-surgery pain

A cavus foot surgery can take 8-12 weeks to recover. During that period, you’ll have to be careful not to put any weight on your feet. 

Risk Factors 

What Are the Risk Factors for High Arches?

There are specific risk factors that increase the probability of developing a high arched foot, such as:

  • Genetics, as high arches can be inherited 
  • Neuromuscular diseases, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Structural abnormalities
  • Muscular imbalances


How Can I Prevent High Arched Feet?

Unfortunately for some, high arches may be unavoidable if inherited. There are also numerous neurological diseases that can lead to the development of high arches. 

However, there are options available to prevent the progression or extent of high arches. These options may include custom orthotics and insoles to help support your feet while standing, walking, or running. 

In some cases, physical therapy may aid in reducing the pain associated with high arches. Stretching and strengthening exercises may help withstand the weight and force put on the area. Performing these types of activities can also help reduce the risk of other foot conditions. 

Foot pain from high arches or any other foot condition can lead to a wide variety of issues. Luckily, our foot clinic provides excellent services and products needed to help your situation. Visit us today or make an appointment. We have a skilled staff of foot specialists that are equipped to deliver the proper treatments and relieve any pain or discomfort you may be feeling.



Toronto, ON Chiropodist Academy Foot and Orthotic


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