Cavus foot is a condition in which the foot has a higher than normal arch that causes an excessive amount of weight to be placed on the ball {outside} and heel of the foot when walking or standing. It can occur at any age and can lead to pain and instability in one or both feet.


In most situations, cavus foot is just a normal variance, and there is no cause other than genetics. Some severe cases are caused by a neurological disorder or other medical conditions, such as cerebral palsyCharcot-Marie-Toot diseasespina bifidapoliomuscular dystrophy, or stroke.


People with cavus foot are more likely to experience forefoot and heel pain, ankle tendinitis, sprains, and certain stress fractures. The condition makes it difficult to find shoes that fit correctly. Symptoms may also include pain when standing or walking, and toes that are bent downward, curled upward, or clenched.  Calluses may form on the ball, side, or heel of the foot as a result of the uneven weight distribution. Repeated ankle sprains are likely if instability is created by the heel tilting inward.  When cavus foot results from a neurological disorder, the patient may develop weakness in the foot and ankle and experience foot drop, dragging the foot when walking.


An orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist will notice this condition when the patient stands. The foot’s muscle strength and the patient’s walking pattern and coordination are also evaluated.  In some instances, the physician may order an X-ray and examine the pattern of wear on the patient’s shoes.  If a neurological condition is suspected, the patient may be referred to a neurologist for a complete neurological assessment.


The underlying cause of cavus foot will dictate the course of treatment. Conservative care can be highly effective for most cases. Stretching and foot exercises can help alleviate stiffness and weakness.  Modified footwear, including special inserts or orthotics, is highly recommended to normalize walking mechanics. In more severe cases, bracing can help keep the foot and ankle stable. Physical therapy to regain flexibility and alleviate associated conditions such as tendinitis will also help alleviate the condition.