Cavus Foot

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 condition, such as cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Toot disease, spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy or stroke.


Cavus foot predisposes patients to things such as forefoot and heel pain, ankle tendinitis, sprains, and certain stress fractures. People with cavus foot may have difficulty finding 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 is 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 of cavus foot. Stretching and foot exercises can help alleviate stiffness and weakness.  Modified footwear, including special inserts or orthotics, is highly recommended to normalize the 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.