Most people have normal arches – some have flat feet where the arches have collapsed – and a very few have high arches.
The foot arch is formed by tendons that attach to the foot and heel bones. The tendons work together to form the proper arch. The primary job of the arch is to move weight from the heel to the forefoot as we walk, helping our feet absorb shock.
High arches, also called pes cavus (Latin for “hollow foot”), are not as common as flat feet and usually are caused by a neurologic or bone disorder. High arches may also be found in those with other medical conditions like cerebral palsy, polio, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida or stroke. Sometimes a high arch is an inherited abnormality.
Symptoms of High Arches
If you look at the inside of the foot of a patient with pes cavus, you’ll see an abnormally high arch and the foot looks hollow even while standing. Sometimes an individual with high arches will have pain in the forefoot because only 2 points in the foot are bearing all the weight. It may be difficult to get shoes to fit properly.
Often other problems are seen in conjunction with a high arch including:
- Calluses on the heel, side or ball of the foot
- Foot pain when walking or standing
- Hammertoes or claw toes
- Foot instability that can cause frequent ankle sprains
- Foot drop, a condition where weak muscles in the ankle and foot result in the individual dragging the foot when walking
A patient with high arches may lose stability, balance and alignment because the foot is unable to function properly.
Diagnosing and Treating High Arches
Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM will first inquire into your family history. We’ll do a complete examination of the foot including its arch and check for other symptoms like calluses, claw toes or hammertoes. We’ll observe your gait and coordination. Your shoes and their wear patterns can give us important clues too.
In most high arch cases we’ll begin with conservative or non-invasive treatments:
- Custom-fitted orthotics can provide cushioning and stability to the foot.
- A brace can work to keep the ankle and foot stable, especially in the presence of foot drop.
- Change your shoes to those with a wider heel base for stability and higher tops for better ankle support.
Surgery may be called for if the pain is not relieved by conservative measures or if instability continues. Each patient and surgical situation is unique and will be addressed on an individual basis.
Contact Us for Any Foot Arch Discomfort
Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience with both fallen and high arches. Please contact us for an appointment in our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. The pain and instability of high arches won’t resolve on its own so call soon to get relief.